Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects every 1 in 59 children. It can be a somewhat confusing diagnosis and leaves parents seeking help in how to assist their child, so they live their best life.
Thankfully, there are many methods and therapies available now to aid parents and children, and one of them is applied behavior analysis or ABA.
So, what is ABA therapy, and how does it work? Is it applicable to every child? If you’re curious about what ABA is, continue reading to learn more about this type of therapy.
What is Autism?
ASD is a condition that affects the person’s ability to socialize, learn, and some people are even non-verbal, inhibiting communication. Since there’s a spectrum of characteristics, autism looks different for everyone that’s diagnosed, and typically no two autistic people are alike.
Here are some symptoms of autism:
- Inconsistent eye contact
- Delayed Speech or Loss of Speech
- Abnormal social interactions
- Repetition in movements
Many other factors and symptoms that can point to autism. Only a licensed medical professional can properly diagnose someone on the autism spectrum.
What is ABA Therapy?
Maybe you’re eager to learn more about ABA therapy.
People with ASD need early intervention to give them the best chances in life. Applied behavior analysis or ABA is a type of treatment that targets behavior. It aims to correct behavior related to social skills, learning, and communication.
ABA is an evidence-based treatment, meaning that it’s a proven and effective form of therapy. The good news is that ABA can be used for a variety of different cases, not just ASD, and is useful for both children and adults.
ABA helps you understand the reason for the behavior, what environmental factors impact the behavior, and how the child learns. All of these things point the therapist towards the best ways to change the behavior more positively.
ABA therapy is the chosen treatment by professionals to manage and improve ASD. Since ASD is different for each person, one of the benefits of ABA is that its individualized care to purposefully treat that person’s specific challenges.
Every person with ASD has strengths and weaknesses. ABA works to refine those skills which are strong and strengthen those which are weak.
How do You Know if Your Child Needs ABA?
First, your child will need to be evaluated by a clinical professional educated in ABA and receive an ASD diagnosis. Once you have the diagnosis, then they work with you to create a treatment plan or functional behavioral assessment.
After evaluating your child, your therapist will then make recommendations on what they believe will be the best route of treatment for your child. Again, this will be a personalized assessment geared towards your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
If your child does need ABA, they may have their therapy in a group session or individual sessions depending on their needs. Group therapy can be beneficial, as each child can practice those social skills.
How Does ABA Work?
The overall goal of ABA is to modify behavior.
One of the ways therapists begin is to use positive reinforcement when there are positive behaviors. The therapist might reward the child when the appropriate display behavior. Parents can also reinforce this at home to give their children an advantage.
Another way ABA works is by the opposite method: consequences. Children may practice understanding how consequences work by using an antecedent, which is a subject or situation, resulting in behavior, and sometimes consequences. The children may be presented with a situation and given a chance to respond positively or negatively.
Depending on the choice the child gives, they may be rewarded or endure consequences from the behavior. Doing this teaches the child which behavior is appropriate. It also reveals to the therapist the underlying reason for the action.
If you are a parent of a child receiving ABA, the therapist should explain their methodologies to you and give you ways to incorporate the behavior at home.
Finding An ABA Therapist
If you have a child with ASD, and you’re considering finding an ABA therapist, there are ways to find one.
First, they need to be qualified and educated or board-certified analyst. This means that they have a master’s degree or doctorate in psychology or another equivalent. They also need a license to practice and need to pass an exam.
If you cannot find a board-certified analyst, your next option is a registered behavioral technician. They work under the supervision of a board-certified analyst.
To find either a technician or analyst, there are a couple of places you can search for. Preferably, your pediatrician or other medical providers may have a recommendation of a provider who can do an intake. You can also explore an online directory for locals in your area, or check with your insurance company about who may be in your network.
How Much Does ABA Cost?
The cost of ABA is different for everyone. Not all insurances will cover the cost of ABA. Check with your insurance to see what therapies are covered. If you have Medicaid and your pediatrician prescribes ABA, then Medicaid must cover the cost.
So what is ABA therapy? It’s a way for people to change their behavior through positive reinforcement and consequences. With regular sessions and practice, ABA is a reliable form of therapy.
Are you a mom who wants to learn more about autism and special needs kids? That’s our specialty! Visit our autism articles to learn more!