How ABA Therapy works

Child in a ABA Therapy sitting at a table

There’s a saying in the world of autism: “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” The fact is that individual needs exist for each person with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). If you’ve looked into options for a loved one with autism, you’ve likely heard about Applied Behavior Analysis (or ABA) therapy and what it can do for your family. But perhaps you’re not familiar with how ABA therapy works.

ABA therapy’s success is rooted in its investigative design that determines what causes behaviors. Understanding specific behaviors and their causes is where ABA starts.

It is often challenging for someone with autism to communicate their feelings in what is considered a socially appropriate manner. Autism makes it difficult for some people to self-regulate their emotions and share in familiar ways. The primary objective of ABA therapy is to assist individuals with autism in acquiring the abilities they need to deal with various situations and express themselves more effectively.

A person receiving ABA therapy can learn how to:

  • Thrive in environments, including home, work, and the community
  • Ask effectively for what they want
  • Improve overall communication with others
  • Diminish and eliminate violent, aggressive, and destructive behaviors

What Makes ABA Therapy Important?

While tantrums can represent the most direct form of communication for an autistic person, they do not represent generally acceptable behavior, making it important for different forms of communication to be introduced. This can be difficult for neurotypical people to understand without proper training and lots of patience.

When you choose ABA therapy, you’ll collaborate with a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA) and a registered behavior technician (RBT) to identify the key issues facing your loved one with autism and your family. For instance, do you find yourself having to leave grocery stores due to your child’s behavior? Through ABA therapy, your child can learn alternative behaviors to these attention-seeking habits.

Best practices include meeting with a BCBA so they can watch your family in a natural setting before starting therapy sessions. They can then decide what would work for the individual family. The BCBA can also recommend alternative treatments if ABA therapy isn’t the ideal option for your child’s specific behaviors.

How Is ABA Therapy Conducted?

Determining the causes of certain maladaptive behaviors and what might be driving people with autism to act out is the first step in therapy sessions. Unwanted actions frequently emerge from stressful situations that a person with autism doesn’t know how to handle, such as having an emotion but being unable to communicate it effectively.

The “A-B-Cs” is one of ABA therapy’s guiding principles:

  • A is for antecedent or the event that immediately precedes a behavior
  • B is for behavior or what the therapy will address
  • C is for the consequence or what happens next

BCBAs can assist a person with autism in learning suitable coping mechanisms that enable them to choose different approaches. For instance, if someone diagnosed with autism is argument prone, the therapist might introduce a five-minute cool-down break to revisit matters later.

A person with autism receiving ABA therapy can be placed in simulated scenarios where they can practice acceptable behavior at their own pace. Clients learn how to handle unpleasant chores in a way that better suits their needs.

What Advantages Does ABA Therapy Offer?

The fact that ABA therapy is personalized by design is one of its main advantages for individuals with autism. Therapy programs must incorporate the proper reinforcement or incentive to be effective and result in healthy behaviors. ABA methods today are play-based therapy sessions designed to be fun for clients.

An experienced BCBA will meet with a family and the neurodivergent child before starting services to understand their main motivators. A child might be interested in watching television, playing video games, or using the computer. A skilled ABA therapy team can add motivators at the ideal times to help kids discover appropriate actions for different circumstances.

Another significant advantage of ABA therapy is that progress is determined by whichever timeframe best suits the client’s needs. qualified BCBA will take as much time as necessary to deliver therapy at whatever pace is required to attain realistic goals.

Let’s imagine your child despises getting dressed in the morning and will go to any means necessary to avoid having to do it. Putting on just one piece of clothing during therapy nudges an autistic child closer to arriving at the whole outfit. Working at one’s own pace makes it simpler to deal with uncomfortable situations and master previously unimagined behavior.

What Is a Therapy Plan for ABA?

For ABA therapy to work, therapy plans are regularly modified to accommodate the demands of the autistic person, which is crucial. Your child’s progress and any concerns can be discussed with your BCBA after the completion of an initial goal-setting session. Once a skill has been mastered, therapy plans can be modified to address more complex behaviors.

You can address a new behavior that has emerged once your child has transitioned to a new stage of life, either after a therapy plan or while it is still in process.

How Effective Is ABA Therapy?

ABA therapy is the only therapy option for autism that has been clinically validated. The basis of ABA’s success is its focus on understanding an autistic person’s requirements and assisting that person in expressing those needs in a manner that those around them can help accommodate.

Although ABA therapy can be an incremental procedure, the benefits often make the time and effort invested worthwhile. Research shows that ABA therapy given over a lengthy period helps people achieve their goals and gain enhanced abilities in:

  • Intellectual/cognitive areas
  • Language learning
  • Social interaction

How Will My Family Benefit from ABA Therapy?

Sessions of ABA therapy are not only intended to benefit the client who has autism. The entire family is involved in ABA therapy when it is carried out correctly so that everyone can learn how to best support the client.

Training parents to reinforce techniques is one of the main focuses of therapy sessions. With parental aid, people with autism can continue applying these techniques long after the therapy has concluded. Autistic and neurotypical family members can learn to understand each other’s needs and develop stronger relationships.

How Can I Learn More About ABA Therapy?

We recommend a meeting with a BCBA if your child or a loved one is on the autism spectrum and in need of therapy. Meeting with an experienced BCBA can help you determine the best method to help a person with autism develop healthy behaviors and positive displays of emotion.

ABA Centers of New Jersey is a team of professionals helping families create the best outcomes for their loved ones with autism. We are here to support children, teenagers, and adults with autism, help them attain skills, and lead fulfilling lives. We have dealt with people of all ages and across the entire range of autism. Has your child recently received a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder? We can help.

For a free consultation with a member of our team, contact us right now or call (855) 640-7888!

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