You may have hear about ABA and Autism? Applied behavior analysis (ABA) treatment for autism focuses on changing behaviors. This is done through understanding the relationship of the behavior to the individual’s environment and then rewarding and reinforcing appropriate behaviors. At the same time, ABA autism therapy works to retrain unwanted behaviors. Applied behavior analysis is intensive therapy for autism and is usually performed by a specialist with Applied Behavior Analysis graduate degree on a one on one basis and then continued in the home.
ABA therapy is widely known as one of the best treatments for individuals with an autism spectrum disorder. It is the only treatment for autism that has been continually researched and validated and has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the United States Surgeon General.
The techniques used by behavior specialist help autistic individuals develop skills in listening, looking, reading, conversing and feeling empathy. Specifically, it has been shown to improve language skills, and academic performance. There are a wide range of ABA techniques that are used to work with autistic individuals from childhood to adulthood. These techniques are taught in various settings such as at home, in the classroom or on the playground.
Specifically ABA therapy works by breaking down skills into a series of smaller steps that are more manageable and easy to learn. The individual learner is then given many opportunities to practice the skill. Positive reinforcement is used to reward the successful implementation of any new skills.
ABA therapists collect data regarding their student’s progress and integrate any new findings back into future training sessions. In this way, ABA therapy provides flexibility and individualized learning for each specific scenario. The baseline elements of ABA therapy across different situations include: simplifying learning, motivating the individual, maximizing successes, practicing to mastery, measuring progress, extending skills to the real world, teaching parents to apply interventions and focusing on reducing and replacing challenging behavior.
ABA therapy may be helpful for individuals with an autism spectrum disorder in many ways. Typically there is a significant increase in their ability to learn the skills for which their therapy is focused. According to the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT), "Many studies show that ABA is effective in increasing behaviors and teaching new skills (Goldstein, 2002; Odom et al., 2003; McConnell, 2002)…[and] reducing problem behavior (Horner et al., 2002).” In addition the ASAT states that, “when implemented intensively (more than 20 hours per week) and early in life (beginning prior to the age of 4 years), ABA may produce large gains in development and reductions in the need for special services (Smith, 1999).(1)”