As a complex, lifelong neurological disorder with no medical treatment, receiving an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis for your child can be quite overwhelming. However, therapeutic interventions have shown promising results in helping children with ASD and their families cope with the challenges presented by this disorder. One of the most powerful interventions in this context is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. First introduced in the early 1960s, ABA has evolved to represent a group of techniques that use positive reinforcement and rewards for treating individuals with Autism. In fact, various evidence-based studies have indicated that early diagnosis and intensive behavioral interventions can help your child overcome their ASD diagnosis.
The expert ABA practitioners at AB Spectrum believe that techniques and programs based on the ABA principles can potentially alter the course of your child’s life. Read on to learn what makes ABA therapy effective.
As a pervasive developmental disorder, ASD can severely impact your child’s social interactions and communications. Most children also tend to show high rates of non-functional interests or interfering behaviors. While neurotypical children may learn from the environment through play or conversation, children with ASD have limited skills and inclination to learn in this manner. Moreover, their inability to communicate effectively could lead to frustration, tantrums, and other problem behaviors.
This is where Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy comes in. ABA aims to reduce challenging behaviors and promote your child’s function and independence. Involving individualized treatment plans, ABA therapy helps in:
Developing your child’s motor skills, social skills, communication, and verbal skills
Improving their cognitive abilities, emotional maturity, and school readiness skills
Enhancing their self-care abilities, such as grooming, getting dressed, sleeping through the night, toileting, and so on.
Teaching the child to recognize, monitor, and control the stereotypical or challenging behaviors.
Most Autism treatment experts use three different ABA-based techniques or interventions
Discrete Trial Training (DTT): This is about breaking down every task or activity into its simplest parts and teaching the child to carry out each step. It involves positive reinforcements for every attempt and repetition of the steps until the child achieves the desired behaviors or outcomes. DTT techniques are effective in increasing the child’s motivation and abilities to learn because:
Each trial or session in DTT is short and does not add unnecessary strain on the child’s learning abilities or attention span
DTT features a very precise format with a distinct beginning and end, which clarifies the teaching situation for the child
DTT is versatile and flexible, allowing the therapist to customize the sessions to the child’s unique developmental goals
Receptive Language and Expressive Language: Many children with ASD may have little or no ability to respond to words or languages. Both, repetitive language and expressive language programs address this critical aspect that can potentially impact the child’s function and independence.
Receptive language is about performing an action in response to a verbal cue. For example, picking up a doll when the therapist says “doll”.
Expressive language is about giving a verbal response to a visual cue. For example, if the therapist holds up a doll, the child says “doll”.
The use of receptive and expressive language interventions can drastically improve the child’s communication, language, and social skills, which in turn can reduce frustrations or negative behaviors and boost their self-confidence.
Pivotal Response Training (PRT): Featuring a variety of behavioral interventions in a naturalistic teaching format, PRT helps in developing the child’s language, communication, sociability, or academic skills. PRT is highly beneficial to children with ASD because:
Instead of individual behaviors, PRT techniques target the ‘pivotal’ areas of the child’s development, such as motivation, self-management, response to multiple cues, and the initiation of social interactions.
Since the child learns the new skills in natural environments, it helps them generalize better and apply these skills in real life.
While each intervention within ABA has its own advantages, here are some of the reasons why ABA therapy as a whole is an effective treatment for children with Autism[AK1] :
Customizable Techniques: ABA therapy plans are geared towards every child’s unique needs. Based on your child’s preferred learning style, motivators, and triggers, the therapist can use different techniques for teaching different skills.
Visible Results: Experts recommend having a long term approach to ABA therapy. Starting at an early age and undergoing intensive and structured therapy for an average of 30-40 hours per week is likely to produce the most effective results among children with Autism. No matter how long your child is in therapy, ABA sessions and techniques allow you to see the progression or regression in their abilities and behaviors almost immediately.
Continuous Learning: With active participation, inputs, and observation, parents, teachers, and caregivers of children with ASD can learn and use the principles of ABA in real-life situations, beyond formal therapy. This creates an environment of continuous and repetitive learning through individualized techniques that are best suited to your child. Essentially, practicing ABA therapy at home or in day-to-day living can help in minimizing interfering behaviors and reinforcing desirable behaviors and skills in your child with Autism.
AB spectrum is the world’s first ReggioABATM clinic, which features a child-led curriculum and a “Therapy through Play” approach. We specialize in the use of the principles of ABA and follow the philosophy of Natural Environment Training (NET) to improve the quality of life of children with Autism. Choose from our clinic-based group ABA therapy options at St. Charles or Chesterfield, Missouri, or in-home ABA sessions in and around the St. Louis area of Missouri. Wherever required, we can design hybrid plans that include center-based as well as in-home therapy.
Our team of licensed and experienced ABA therapists believes that ABA-based techniques and interventions offer some of the most effective results in children with Autism. We have several success stories where children have graduated from our ABA therapy programs and joined their neurotypical peers in school and other activities.
For the best ABA therapy options in the St. Louis area of Missouri, count on the experts at AB Spectrum. Call 314.648.2687 to learn more about our ABA programs or book a no-fee consultation at one of our Autism treatment centers near you.