WHAT IS ABA THERAPY FOR AUTISM?
One out of every 59 children in the United States is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) each year, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. This figure has almost tripled over the last two decades as the medical and scientific worlds have become more aware of the condition. Physicians diagnose one in six children with some form of developmental disorder annually.
For parents struggling to help their children overcome those conditions, it may seem there’s little hope or help available. Many simply aren’t equipped to handle behavioral, mental, cognitive, and developmental issues on their own.
Though numerous treatment options are available, studies point to ABA therapy, Applied Behavior Analysis, as the most widely used and effective intervention to date.
Contact our office in Oakland, California, to learn more about the ABA therapy services we offer for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
HOW CAN ABA THERAPY HELP INDIVIDUALS WITH AUTISM?
ABA therapy is based on the original behavior modification solutions developed by Skinner during the 1940s and employed by Wolf 20 years later. It involves observing a client’s behavior and why it takes place. Three primary principles apply to this practice, and they’ve since become known as the ABCs of ABA.
- Antecedent: What occurred before the behavior.
- Behavior: The behavior itself.
- Consequence: What occurred after the behavior.
By understanding what prompts the behavior in question, how the client reacts afterward and the outcome of the situation, ABA therapists can improve negative behaviors by altering their consequences. Positive behaviors are also reinforced when using this approach.
UNDERSTANDING THE ABA THERAPY PROCESS
Applied Behavior Analysis therapy, like all treatments, begins with an initial consultation. In this assessment, the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) will speak with you about your child, his or her specific issues, and the problems for which help is needed.
During the evaluation, known as a functional behavior assessment, the therapist will also spend time with your child to interact and observe his or her actions and developmental levels among other aspects. ABA therapists often visit clients’ homes, schools and other places where they spend a great deal of time.
After observing and evaluating your child, the clinician will develop a treatment plan specific to your child’s needs. No two children’s needs are alike, so every treatment is different. Still, they’re all based on the core principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. ABA therapy for autism focuses on the goal of reducing negative behaviors while improving a child’s communication skills, abilities to cope with changing situations, and other areas of concern.
THERE ARE DIFFERENT TYPES OF ABA
ABA is an all-encompassing term for analyzing, addressing and improving various behaviors. Over time, four distinct versions of Applied Behavior Analysis therapy have evolved from the science.
- Verbal Behavior Intervention
Sometimes called applied verbal behavior, verbal behavior intervention helps clients improve their verbal communication skills. After observing communication deficiencies, therapists work to help clients learn to communicate better by teaching them to associate items with their corresponding words.
Clients learn the importance and rewards of using words to convey their wants, needs, and feelings. One simple example would be teaching the child that saying “cookie” results in receiving a cookie. At the same time, the child will learn throwing a tantrum rather than using his or her words produces no satisfactory results.
- Early Intensive Behavior Intervention
EIBI revolves around teaching children an array of behaviors and skills. They improve their motor and verbal skills through several methods, such as following the lead of their therapist and caregivers and various other strategies. This type of ABA is usually recommended for children under the age of 5.
- Discrete Trial Training
Instructors break down complex tasks a child may be struggling with into simpler individual components in DTT. From there, they slowly bring those elements back together until the child can complete complex tasks on his or her own. Children receive rewards for their progress with each step.
- Early Start Denver Model
Children under the age of 4 tend to benefit most from the Early Start Denver Model. This method helps children with their verbal, communication and social capabilities. Therapists use both play-based teaching and interactive strategies during ESDM sessions.
- Pivotal Response Training
Pivotal response training offers cross-disciplinary benefits. Therapists follow cues from the client in this type of training. Motivation, responding to multiple cues, self-management, and self-initiations are the key focal points of PRT.
The clinician may use these types of treatments alone or in conjunction with others based on the specific needs of your child. Other deciding factors may also come into play.
BCBAs will include you, your child’s teacher and other caregivers in training, so the skills learned in therapy are continually reinforced outside the clinical setting.
ABA TECHNIQUES AND PHILOSOPHY
ABA is a complex field. This type of therapy is built upon certain fundamental levels. Each aspect ensures ABA therapy programs are effective, progressive and relevant to various areas of the client’s life.
Seven core dimensions encompass the overall treatment approach, and they’re remembered by using the acronym: Get a Cab.
- Generalization: Skills and behaviors focused on during therapy sessions are lasting and effective outside the clinical setting.
- Effective: Treatments are relevant to the client’s everyday life and monitored to ensure they’re effective.
- Technological: Practitioners must describe interventions clearly and concisely, so other people involved in the client’s care can implement them accurately.
- Applied: Treatments target socially significant behaviors to ensure they have a positive impact on the clients and others with whom he or she interacts.
- Conceptually Systematic: Interventions remain consistent with the concepts of Behavior Analysis.
- Analytic: Treatment decisions are data-based, meaning they’re made based on the observable and measurable needs and progress of the client. When an approach isn’t effective for a specific client, therapists should modify the treatment plan.
- Behavioral: Observable and measurable behaviors are taken into consideration, both positive and negative. This way, treatments can improve bad behaviors and heighten good ones.
These seven dimensions aid in ensuring consistent, applicable treatments for all clients whether they’re living with autism, OCD, personality disorders or any other condition for which ABA has been approved.
In addition to the seven core dimensions, ABA consists of five key components:
- Task Analysis: Breaking down aspects of issues into individual parts to better address each element of the client’s behavior.
- Chaining: Dividing skills into individual components to make learning simpler for clients.
- Prompting: Guiding a client if he or she is struggling with a task.
- Fading: Gradually eliminating prompts so the client doesn’t become dependent upon them and learns to complete tasks independently.
- Shaping: Offering positive reinforcement for incremental progress.
All these elements come together to create a well-rounded treatment option. It’s versatile, so it’s suitable for clients with diverse needs. At the same time, ABA therapy involves certain fundamental aspects to ensure consistency.
WHERE CAN I FIND ABA THERAPY FOR MY CHILD WITH AUTISM?
If you feel ABA therapy may be a good fit for your child, the first step is to obtain a referral from your child’s physician. He or she may recommend a specific Board Certified Behavior Analyst or ABA clinic. You can also search online for local ABA therapists near me.
HOW LONG DOES ABA THERAPY LAST?
How long ABA therapy lasts generally varies by client. In some cases, therapists work with clients for as little as 10 hours each week. Other clients may need up to 40 hours of therapy each week. Your child may need therapy for a few months, but some receive treatment for as long as three years.
ABA THERAPY PROGRAMS CAN HELP
Countless children living with autism spectrum disorder have benefited from ABA therapy. This treatment helps improve their communicative and developmental skills while reducing negative or harmful behavior.
If you’d like to learn more about our ABA treatment center in Oakland and how it can help your child, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation.
DOES INSURANCE COVER ABA?
In most cases, Applied Behavior Analysis is covered by private insurance. However, coverage depends on the type of insurance a patient has and where they live. In most states, Medicaid plans must cover medically necessary treatments for those under 21. Typically, if a physician prescribes ABA and deems it medically necessary, it must be covered. Please consult your insurance provider for specific information, or contact us directly to help check your benefits.
WHERE AND HOW CAN FAMILIES FIND SERVICES?
Finding and beginning ABA services can be relatively straightforward. Start by consulting a pediatrician or other healthcare provider. Only a medical professional can determine if ABA is suitable for a patient, and they can prescribe the therapy for insurance purposes. Look for a nearby ABA provider or ask the patient’s teachers and doctor for suggestions. Finally, call the provider to set up an evaluation.
WHICH QUESTIONS SHOULD FAMILIES ASK THEIR ABA PROVIDER?
When finding ABA therapy and providers, it’s important to find those that fit the patient’s and family’s needs.
The following questions may help families determine whether a program provider is a good fit:
- How many BCBAs are on staff and can you describe the supervisory process and ratio (should be about 1 hour of supervision for every 5 hours of treatment)?
- How many RBTs (Registered Behavior Technicians) are on staff and how do they fit into each team?
- How many providers generally work with each client?
- What kind of intial and ongoing training to RBTs receive? BCBAs?
- Describe the BCBA supervision process, frequency, and duration
- How do providers handle safety issues?
- What do typical sessions include?
- Consider setting(s) that best meet your needs and ask if intervention is available in those (e.g., clinic, home, community, school, etc.).
- How are a client’s goals and objectives determined? Is the family’s input valued? How are differences resolved?
- Are goals and objectives periodically re-evaluated? If so, how, and for what purpose?
- How is progress measured? How often? To what end?
- How much weekly therapy does the program include?
- Is there a waiting list?
- Does the program accept our insurance?
CONTACT US TODAY
For people with developmental disabilities, including autism, Applied Behavior Analysis is the intervention of choice. By learning how these programs work, who they can help, and where to find them, families who support people with special needs can find the help they need when they need it.
Contact our office in Oakland today to discover how we can serve you by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or filling out your information in the form at the top.