ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) is an individualized approach to changing behavior. When we create a program for a client, we look at what behaviors we want to increase (communicative behaviors, appropriate play, etc.) and what behaviors we want to decrease (screaming, hitting, etc.), and then we create a program that targets that client's specific needs. We break complex behaviors into tiny, teachable components, and use prompts and reinforcement to help the client master the tasks.
ABA can be used to teach a number skills and help alter many behaviors. This includes performing better at school, participating in extra-curricular activities, addressing speech problems, accomplishing family-centered goals (e.g. sitting at the dinner table, engaging in family activities, etc.) and addressing problem behaviors (e.g. tantrums, biting, head banging, etc.).
ABA is the only evidence-based and data-driven treatment currently available. Although other treatments have theory behind their purpose, ABA is the only treatment that not only has scientific theory and research behind it, but many years of data to show its effectiveness. ABA uses objective data sources to measure a socially significant change. This ensures that the changes observed are not subjective or influenced by personal biases.
Yes, specialized training and degrees are necessary. Although anyone can be taught to implement specific programs related to ABA, specialized training, certificates and degrees are required and necessary to create, implement and analyze the effectiveness of a specific program. The qualifications necessary to be an ABA therapist may vary depending location, but having the correct certification ensures that the programs and implementation of the programs adhere to the ABA standards. This is reflected in the BACB (Behavior Analyst Certification Board) certification process, as well as education in ABA at the master or doctoral level.
No, ABA is not only for individuals with autism. It is often associated with autistic individuals, as years of research and evidence exist to show its effectiveness in helping this specific population. However, ABA may help any child, regardless of their diagnosis. It addresses specific behaviors, not the diagnosis, and incorporates an individualized program to target those behaviors.
The lessons that we teach will be different for each client, but the program will look similar. Before a program is started, we will do an assessment of skills and behaviors to get a better understanding of the client's current level of functioning. Next, we will choose the specific lessons for the client and develop an individualized program. An ABA program typically consists of 5-40 hours a week of therapy. Sessions may be held in the client's home or at our facility. As the client progresses, programs will expand so that the client may generalize their new skills to other settings. This could include parent training, community outings, or supervised play-dates. An ABA program is a long-running program that typically continues for at least 2 years.
There is no cure for autism, and there are many factors that alter how effective an ABA program is for each individual child—age, level of functioning and hours of therapy each week. However, ABA is one of few empirically proven treatments that has shown significant progress for children with developmental disabilities including autism.
ABA uses a methodology that can be applied to all behaviors, including (but not limited to): communication, social skills, daily living skills, school readiness, tantrums, potty training, feeding difficulties, and so on. If something is a problem for you, let us know, because chances are there are things we can do to help make it better.
One of the key features of ABA is that it is a science and evidence-based treatment. In order to be considered evidence-based, ABA therapist make data-based decisions. This involves taking data on each program and analyzing it not only in its raw form but in a visual display (graph). This allows for easy comparison and analysis of each program to ensure that the client is learning and making progress.
We want to make sure that the skill is maintained over time. Many of the skills taught are prerequisites for larger, more complex skills and will be practiced within the future targets. An example of this would be fine motor skills such as a pincer grip game being practiced and maintained in a handwriting program.