Children on the autism spectrum tend to process information differently than other children of the same age. This can challenge their ability to communicate and interact with others. As a result, children with autism can display repetitive behavioral issues that can intensify depending on their environment and diagnosis. Fortunately, there are proven methods which can help improve these behaviors in children while building on their social skills and learning capacity. Through early diagnosis and early action, Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy, also known as ABA therapy, can help children with autism lead independent and fulfilling lives.
What is ABA Therapy?
Applied behavior analysis therapy is the leading methodology proven to bring about positive changes in the behavior of children with autism.
ABA therapy focuses on principles such as positive reinforcement, that indicate how learning takes place. Positive reinforcement is best characterized as the rewarding or encouraging of behaviors that are deemed positive, to increase the likelihood that a child will want to display that behavior again. Through years of research, people working with ABA have developed methods of learning that encourage beneficial behavior, and reduce instances of potentially harmful and repetitive behaviors.
Techniques used in ABA therapy are best utilized in structured settings like a classroom to enable the learning of positive behavior in an effective and intensive way.
How Does ABA Help Children with Autism?
Effectively teaching children with autism about positive behavior can be a difficult and time-consuming process. Basic social skills that may come natural to the neurotypical may need to be broken down into much smaller steps. However, If given the proper time, effort, and patience, children with autism can ultimately be independent and thrive in social settings.
ABA therapy is a very rigorous method of teaching that can produce incredible results. ABA has been endorsed by a plethora of federal agencies, such as the U.S. Surgeon General and the New York State Department of Health. Over the last several years, there has been a dramatic increase in the utilization of ABA therapy as a means of developing skills such as looking, listening, imitating, reading, conversing, and empathy. Proven by Ole Ivar Lovaas, the grandfather of ABA, approximately 47% of children on the autism spectrum reach a level at which they are indistinguishable from their peers.
What Progress Can Be Expected?
The progress experienced as a result of ABA therapy is dependent on two main factors.
First, ABA programs should be individualized. Areas that need improvement need to be identified for each child so that an effective treatment plan can be developed in order to ensure progress.
The second determining factor is the amount of time dedicated to therapy. While ABA intervention can lead to incredible results, these results rarely come quickly. Most children benefit from an intensive, ongoing approach to teaching in order achieve the desired results. Additionally, things like age, level of functioning, needs, and what particular skills they need help with determine how fast a child will learn.
Though it can create barriers for your child, autism doesn’t have to get in the way of a happy and fulfilling life. With an intensive and thoughtful treatment plan, children who receive ABA therapy can see incredible progress in their ability to socialize, learn and display positive behaviors in their day-to-day.
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