Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has evolved in to one of the most effective therapies for Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders. It is a therapy based in science and results. Children with autism that receive the recommended amount of ABA hours per week show a substantial improvement in behavior and learning. Simply put, the goal of ABA is to increase positive behaviors and decrease behaviors that negatively impact learning and daily life. This article will take a deeper look at ABA, and how it works.
ABA is an evidence-based best practice treatment of Autism. That means it has been scientifically proven through many valid and reliable experiments to work. This is a very important point. There should be a certain level of confidence associated with the treatments of any condition or illness. In fact, when intensive ABA is provided (between 25-40 hours per week), substantial gains are shown to be made. This has been presented in many studies targeting ABA.
How it works
Behavior Analysts go through a tremendous amount of training to be able to successfully provide the service. For the sake of this article, how ABA works will be simplified. The main goal of ABA as stated above is to increase positive behaviors and reduce negative ones. One of the main strategies behavior therapists use is positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is providing a reward for when a positive behavior has been used. After repetition and time, the behavior should be changed permanently. The reward is appropriate and applies well to the person receiving it.
Behavior analysts and therapists heavily focus on the cause of a certain behavior (Antecedent), what behavior was exhibited, and the consequence of the behavior. The consequence is a direct result of the behavior and may positive or negative. Using this method allows analysts to build programs tailored for individuals that are unique in what they are targeting.
Other helpful tidbits
ABA is provided by Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT), also referred to as Behavior Therapists. The BCBA’s evaluate the child, build the programming for the child, and then supervise the RBT as the program is implemented. All the data shows that the more hours of ABA a child gets, the more optimal results will be seen. An ABA team may consist of one BCBA and several RBT’s. The important thing is that the programs are followed closely, monitored for success, and adjusted for improvement. Most insurance companies do cover ABA services at this point, though, that wasn’t always the case. Benefits should be verified by the ABA company prior to therapy starting. This is a standard practice. Embarking on an ABA journey is a huge step in the development of any child with autism. Like anything else, the unknown may be scary. Having some information about it in advance can make all the difference in the world.