What is ABA Therapy?

October 30, 2016

What pops into your head when you hear the term ABA? For many people it is “Autism”. And you are not wrong in thinking that! ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) is a common therapy used with individuals on the Autism spectrum as well as with other populations. But, what many people don’t know is why it’s such a good fit for those on the spectrum.

ABA therapy helps people achieve meaningful outcomes by increasing independence in life skills, socialization and academic skills while also targeting problem behavior that could interfere with that progress. People with Autism tend to struggle in the area of communication on some level. ABA therapy works on increasing verbal language to help individuals communicate with others. Whether through sign language, pictures, or spoken language, ABA helps create a connection between using this language and gaining access to wants and needs.

ABA also focuses on changing the environment to produce desired behaviors. This could be changing something prior to the behavior as well as delivering something after the behavior. ABA uses a combination of table work and natural environment practice to establish a strong repertoire of verbal language that can be applied in multiple settings for an individual.

How ABA Therapy Works

It all begins with a little motivation. The more you want something, the more you will work to get it. We use this motivation to increase the behaviors we want to see. Let’s use the following example to go through this common ABA process of increasing requests. Luke loves cars.

Motivation:
Luke is grabbing toward the cars. Oh he wants them so badly!

Prompt (give a little help):
“Luke, say ‘car’” (that’s much better than grabbing right?)

Shaping (push a little bit):
Luke says “ca”. Nice work! “Luke say ‘car’.”

Reinforcement (little party):
Luke says “car”. Woo hoo!!! Here is the car!

Fading (hold back some):
Hold up the car and wait for Luke to say it on his own!

Reinforcement (big party):
Luke says “car” and Luke gets all the cars! This is amazing!

Simple right! Okay, it’s not always that simple but you get the idea. A similar process is used for other skills as well. Handwriting, bathroom use, math facts, and more! We capture and contrive motivation to increase skills. Through the use of reinforcement, we strengthen those behaviors we want to see more of and in turn weaken those not so great moments. This process benefits learners at all ages and levels as well. One of the benefits of using ABA is that it is individualized and we can jump in at any level and at any time to work toward the overall goals.

Who is ABA Therapy for?

ABA! HUH! Who is it good for? Absolutely everyone! Say it again!

ABA has been proven to work well for people with Autism. That being said, ABA is a wide field that has much to offer many populations outside of the Autism world as well; Athletes, addicts, dogs, and husbands just to name a few. The principals are the same, reinforce the good stuff, push to make it better, fade your involvement and watch the independence.

It’s great that you now know what ABA is, but you may still be thinking, “Is ABA right for my child?” So I ask you this, does your child have behaviors that you would like to improve? Are there other behaviors you would like to see go away? Do you need help figuring out how to teach necessary and desired life skills? If so, ABA may be a perfect fit! After all, ABA could really help all of us! Call us to today to set up an appointment!

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