When you are looking for solutions for your child with autism, you come across different kinds of therapy like physical, occupational, counseling, and nutritional. Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy will also pop up in your search although you may not be as familiar with this type of therapy. When you understand the basic techniques used in ABA therapy, you can see what it would look like to have an ABA therapist work with your child. You can also see why ABA therapy is so effective.
Here are the basics of ABA therapy techniques:
Creating specific goals. You want your child to be more natural in social situations or to be more independent. ABA therapy can take those dreams for your child and turn them into specific goals. The ABA therapist will spend time observing your child and taking notes on his current behaviors to narrow down what specific task-oriented goal to work on first.
Breaking a task down into smaller steps. Everyday life tasks can prove difficult for a child with autism.Tasks like brushing your teeth, putting on your shoes, clearing the table, or greeting a new friend or an old friend come so naturally to you that you forget how many little steps make up each task. ABA therapy breaks down each task into teachable steps.
Adding cues to the steps of the task. When someone says hello to you, you recognize the cue to say hello in return. Your child may not recognize that social cue. In that case, the ABA therapist will add a cue or prompt to the situation in order to remind the child to say hello.
Reinforcing the desired behavior. Positive reinforcement adds something to the situation to encourage the desired behavior. Negative reinforcement takes away something from the situation to increase the repetition of a behavior. Reinforcement is not the same as punishment. Punishment is not used in ABA therapy. Punishment is the addition of something negative to the situation. ABA therapy designs a plan to effectively and consistently use reinforcement to help the child work towards his goal. Consistency is key which is why ABA therapy is a team effort with parents, older siblings, and teachers all on board. It’s imperative to work together with the ABA therapist so your child has a smooth path to success. Over time the child will learn how to do the task and the cues or prompts and the reinforcement will not be needed.
Collecting data to objectively evaluate the effectiveness of a teaching strategy. Once the goal is chosen, the task is broken down into steps, and reinforcement is consistently used, the ABA therapist continues to observe and write down notes to collect evidence to show whether or not the plan is working.
Teaching the skill in a controlled setting. Once the task is mastered in a controlled setting at home, then the task can be used in a more generalized setting like a playdate or at school. This transition in environment is called generalization.
The practical and objective approach built in to the ABA therapy process gives hope to frustrated parents. If you are in the Fremont, Hayward, or South Bay areas of California, contact Discover Hope to find out more about Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy for your family.