What Happens in an ABA Therapy Session?

If your child has received an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis, you may be in the process of researching all the available Autism treatment options near you. A study of the possibilities will soon reveal how Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is one of the most evidence-based Autism treatments with proven success stories. If you are looking for more details about a typical ABA therapy session, it is important to understand that ABA therapy plans are tailor-made for every child. In the same way that no two children ever exhibit the exact same symptoms of ASD, similarly, no two ABA therapy plans will ever be identical.

At AB Spectrum, we specialize in the Reggio Emilia ABA therapy approach that uses multiple behavioral tools and techniques and focuses on Natural Environment Training (NET). As an Autism early intervention and diagnostic center, we often have anxious parents coming in to inquire how ABA therapy works. Our qualified and experienced ABA therapists offer some insights to help you get a clearer picture of a typical session plan.

Creation of Treatment Plans: Every ABA therapy plan is customized to the unique needs and specific goals of the child with Autism. Here are some of the initial steps:

  • A Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) will Assess the child and determine the goals that can promote the child’s function and independence Prepare individualized ABA-based programs and interventions and supervise the therapy.

  • A Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) will provide the actual one-on-one therapy to the child based on the plan created by the BCBA.

  • ABA therapy specialists use the first few sessions for establishing a rapport with the child, and figuring out their favorite activities, toys, tickles and treats. The goal is to make the child comfortable in a new environment through fun, play, and positive reinforcements.

Therapy Interventions: After the initial ‘pairing’ of the child and the therapist, most sessions involve the use of different training techniques to develop the social, motor, verbal, communication, and reasoning skills, along with other critical life skills and self-care abilities. This includes:

  • Discrete Trial Training (DTT): Conducted in a slightly formal setting, your child and the therapist will usually sit at a table, where the therapist will teach a skill that has a distinct beginning and end. For example, the therapist may focus on a simple action, such as “Touch your nose” or “Stand up” or a more complex outcome for “Write your name”. Whether it is a vocal skill or an action, the therapist will: Break it down into simpler steps that the child understands Conduct repeated practice Give feedback and/ or a reward after each attempt

  • Natural Environment Training (NET): The ultimate objective of therapy is to ensure that children with ASD apply the learnings from their sessions to real-life situations. This is why, NET involves interactions with family, peers, or other children to help the child generalize the skills and use them outside of therapy. While DTT provides reinforcements after every attempt, NET calls for immediate application of the new learnings. Combining DTT with NET can help the child in mastering new skills more quickly and efficiently, while also reducing their interfering or challenging behaviors.

  • Session Flows: While the treatment plans for every child with Autism are unique, the basic activity flow for most ABA therapy sessions is quite similar. For example: Step 1: An ABA therapist may begin teaching the child a “C” sound, such as “Ca”, “Cah”, and so on. After every attempt, the therapist encourages the repetition of the sound until the child succeeds. Each attempt also involves a personalized reinforcement that works most effectively for that child. It could be in the form of verbal praise, hug, treat, toy, or something else. Step 2: The therapist now adds a “reinforce” skill, directly connected to the vocal skill they just taught. This could mean helping the child learn that a “cat” or “car” begins with the “Cah” sound. Step 3: This step is about applying the skill in a natural manner or environment, such as pointing to a cat picture or playing with a toy car, while getting the child to practice the “Cah” sound that they just learned.

Some therapy sessions may also include ‘circle time’ with other therapists and children at the Autism treatment center. This involves recreating a safe, controlled environment to mimic a social setting, such as a school. While each child gets one-on-one time with their respective therapists, circle time gives them an opportunity to apply and practice the learned skills in simulated real-life situations. For example, sharing a bench, raising their hand before speaking, taking turns to play with a toy, and so on.

At AB Spectrum, we have extensive experience in treating children with ASD. Our expert therapists use ABA-based programs and interventions to set up your child with Autism for success in life. Take advantage of our flexible treatment options and choose from center-based sessions (at St. Charles and Chesterfield, Missouri), in-home therapy, or a hybrid option that combines both.

From developing social skills, cognitive skills, and life skills, to improving emotional maturity, independence, and self-confidence, we support children with ASD at every step of the Autism journey. Our goal is to provide high-impact ABA therapy treatments that lead to sustainable changes and enhanced quality of life for these children as well as their families.

Looking for a trusted Autism treatment center in the St. Louis area of Missouri? Call 314.648.2687 to explore the ABA therapy programs offered by AB Spectrum. You can also book a no-fee consultation to meet with our expert therapists and get deeper insights into the structure and quality of our ABA therapy sessions.

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