What is ABA?
ABA Stands for Applied Behavior Analysis. Its a mixture of psychological and educational techniques that are tailored to the needs of each individual child to alter their behavior. ABA involves the use of behavioral methods to measure behavior, teach functional skills and language and evaluate progress. The ABA teaching system breaks down any task into sub tasks and places a very high emphasis on rewarding the child for working well. Autism therapy starts off in a very rigid structured form but gradually takes shape of a typical school environment.
How is our approach different?
Applied Behaviour Analysis is an evidence based set of principles that can be used for teaching any child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Sandra helps you set up a home-based system which can be done so in a variety of ways. Some parents choose to outsource the day to day running of their program to therapists. However, others choose intense involvement in the management and running of their child’s ABA program and seek to provide direct therapeutic treatment to their child. Research has shown that parental involvement is imperative to treatment success. Parents are indispensable in their child’s program. They play a necessary and critical role. Studies show that children whose parents are actively engaged in the process make measurable gains. There are a number of reasons for this. First, no one knows the child better than the parent; the parents provide critical and insightful information that will help guide the ABA program. Second, parents are able to continue to prompt and reinforce the child through his or her various daily activities - an essential component to generalizing skills. Finally, parents typically spend the most time with their child and those parents trained in behaviour interventions are in an advantageous position to be able to maximise their child’s learning rate and skill development.
There are many benefits in having Sandra create and supervise your home-based ABA program. During an initial assessment Sandra will identify the unique strengths and needs of your child, and will write an ABA program individually tailored to your child. She will train parents in their child’s individualised program and will support them in behaviour management. She will teach parents effective and efficient ways of interacting with their child. This will allow you to incorporate ABA throughout your day to promote language, social skills, positive behavior, or any skills your child is working on. Sandra will provide ongoing monitoring and use feedback from the parents to adapt the ABA program to meet the child’s continuing need as he or she grows, changes and acquires more skills. She will create your child’s ongoing program and goals, monitor the effectiveness of the program, and provide ongoing supervision and training for the parents.
How does the ABA work?
During an initial assessment Sandra will identify the unique strengths and needs of your child, and will write an ABA program individually tailored to your child. She will train parents in their child’s individualised program and will support them in behaviour management. She will teach parents effective and efficient ways of interacting with their child. This will allow you to incorporate ABA throughout your day to promote language, social skills, positive behavior, or any skills your child is working on. Sandra will provide ongoing monitoring and use feedback from the parents to adapt the ABA program to meet the child’s continuing need as he or she grows, changes and acquires more skills. She will create your child’s ongoing program and goals, monitor the effectiveness of the program, and provide ongoing supervision and training for the parents.
Setting up an ABA program can be expensive. Being trained to act as your child’s therapist will allow you to conduct as much of your child’s ABA teaching sessions that you can handle. This will provide financial benefits and make it more economical to set up and maintain an ABA program.
Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is a scientific discipline of intensive therapy based on the theory of behaviourism. It has grown to become one of the most common, evidence based methods used to treat autism, and has become an effective means of intervention for this population. The ABA method focus on all areas of development and teaches communication (verbal and non-verbal), social, motor, and play skills, as well as academics and reasoning skills and can also be effective in managing challenging and problematic behaviours including tantrums, self-injurious and socially inappropriate behaviours.
Many people have heard the term “ABA” but aren’t sure what it means or what ABA involves. A breakdown of the terms is helpful. First, applied simply means that as behaviour analysts we select behaviours to teach that are socially significant (language, reading, play and leisure skills, following instructions, and so on) and that we use behaviour analytic principles to teach those skills. The term behaviour refers to responses (teaching targets) that we can observe and measure so we can track when they occur. This way, we know if these important behaviours are increasing as a result of our teaching. Finally, we use analysis to look at events that before the response such as instructions and prompts, and consequences that occur after the response such as praise, toys, edibles or access to activities.
An ABA program takes the form of a highly structured program and is individualised and designed around the age and skills of the child. Evidence shows that the earlier a child begins intervention the better the outcome. An ABA program is typically aimed at children between 2 and 6 years of age, ideally before they have started school. However, ABA can be effective for older children as well as adults. ABA aims to develop receptive and expressive language skills and to promote the use of these skills in a social context, by teaching skills in a one-on-one therapy setting which the child can generalise and apply the skills learnt to everyday life.
The overall goal of a language-based ABA program is to equip students so they can acquire the skills necessary to be successful in more typical classroom settings. Then the goal is to gradually reduce or eliminate the individualized support. In other words, we’re teaching children the foundation skills they need to respond accurately and appropriately in a group setting, skills that most typically developing children already have by the time they enter kindergarten.
An ABA program can vary in terms of the number of hours and usually involves 2-3 hours each morning and afternoon, and is generally spread across 5 days a week. Some parents, after an initial period of training do some of the therapy hours themselves whilst other families employ therapist. The Federal Government’s “Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) funding can be used towards ABA therapy.
There are many benefits in Speech therapist and ABA professionals collaborating and consulting with each other when working with a child. Whilst the basis of ABA programming is to develop receptive and expressive language in social contexts, Speech therapists will provide appropriate speech and language targets factoring in any articulation and phonological issues the child may have, as well as identifying appropriate vocabulary selection, and offer assessment and training related to augmented communication systems. Benefits of collaboration between professionals results in more opportunities for ongoing assessment of treatment goals.
The effectiveness of ABA-based interventions for children with autism has been well documented. There is a wealth of validated and peer-reviewed studies supporting the efficacy of ABA methods to improve and sustain socially significant behaviours in every domain in individuals with autism. Importantly, results reported include “meaningful” outcomes such as increased social skills, communication skills academic performance, and overall cognitive functioning. These reflect clinically significant quality of life improvements. While studies varied as to the magnitude of gains, all have demonstrated long-term retention of gains made. The most influential and widely cited review of the literature regarding efficacy of treatments for Autism is the National Research Council's book Educating Children with Autism (2001) which concluded that ABA was the best research supported and most effective treatment for the main characteristics of autism.
This article was written by Sandra D’Souza.