ABA Techniques Help Your Child Develop
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) consists of a group of techniques that help people who have been diagnosed with autism and similar disorders. Since developmental disorders affect people of all ages, there isn’t an age limit on people who can receive ABA services.
However, it’s best to start with children as young as 2. Why is that? Because the goal of ABA therapy is to increase the number of positive actions and decrease the number of negative ones. This is done through teaching children essential social skills and helping them unlearn problematic behaviors.
Each child and person has a personalized program consisting of ABA therapy techniques that work for them. Service providers take into account everything from one’s needs, age, goals, and current skills. That’s how they ensure that everyone gets a program specifically tailored to them to yield much better results.
This kind of Autism therapy has been proven effective over and over again. It’s backed by both scientific research and years of practice. But for this kind of therapy to work, a service provider has to be a top-notch Behavioral Analyst. Every person with autism is different and will have different patterns of learning and unlearning. That’s why it takes a highly skilled individual to make Autism behavioral therapy work.
3 Examples of ABA Techniques
There are many ABA techniques used in Autism therapy. Not every child will respond well to all techniques, which is why ABA therapists have to find the right match. They can choose to focus on one at a time or incorporate several different strategies at the same time.
ABA techniques include:
- Positive and negative reinforcement
- Prompting and fading
- Task analysis
- Behavior contracts
- Errorless teaching
We will explain the first three because you can do these ABA therapy techniques at home too. However, it’s always best to talk to a professional first.
Positive and Negative Reinforcement
People with autism have a hard time figuring out what the proper way to behave is in certain social situations. That’s why, when they do behave correctly, it’s essential to give them positive reinforcement. This teaches them what kind of behavior is desirable and helps them to remember and repeat it.
On the other hand, problematic behavior needs to be corrected. The most effective kind of ‘negative reinforcement’ in children is punishment. Both types of reinforcements need to be done immediately, so it’s easy for the child to understand what they’re being praised/punished for. Additionally, the only way reinforcement works is if it is consistent.
When a person with autism struggles to learn or adopt a new skill, it’s useful to break it down. That’s what this ABA technique is all about. If you see your child struggling with an assigned task, break it down into a series of smaller tasks. For example, it will be easier for your child to learn and understand chores if they learn one at a time.
Prompting and Fading
Prompts are cues that encourage targeted behavior patterns. They can be verbal or visual. Consider them a gentle reminder or a nudge in the right direction when your child struggles to respond to a situation. These prompts are helpful because they’re not frightening and will help prevent feelings of failure. The goal is to gradually make them fade after some time.
Know the ABCs
The ABCs in ABA therapy are Antecedent, Behavior, and Consequence. These three things help us learn and understand behavior. Through understanding ABCs, we can figure out why a child is behaving a certain way and how different consequences can affect behaviors.
Let’s explain the ABC’s further:
- Antecedent — Verbal or physical cues that happen before a reaction/behavior. These cues can come from a person, the environment, or even be internal. An example of an antecedent is a verbal command to your child to do their chore.
- Behavior — A response or lack thereof to a certain cue. Anything can count as a response, including physical, verbal, or other reactions. Examples include your child obeying and doing the chore, saying no, throwing a tantrum, or even ignoring you.
- Consequence — Comes immediately after the behavior and can include positive or negative reinforcement. A consequence can also be having no reaction at all. Examples of consequences can vary and depend on the child’s behavior.
What Does ABA Therapy Look Like?
Not all ABA therapy for Autism programs can look the same. Because children with Autism aren’t the same, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. ABA therapists invest a lot of time into assessing each child first. This helps them get a better picture of what level they’re on right now and figure out short and long-term goals. The main goal of using ABA behavioral techniques is to help individuals become independent.
It’s important to note that goals don’t have to include communication and social skills only. They can also involve playtime and self-care.
Family members, caregivers, and guardians are all involved in Autism therapy. For everything to work as it should, everyone has to be involved. That involvement isn’t limited to them just tracking the child’s progress. Family members are also trained in ABA techniques so that they can use them at home.
How Long Does it Last?
ABA therapy can last anywhere from months to years. Most children will have one-on-one sessions with therapists that last anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. Sometimes, the sessions can be longer, amounting to 40 hours a week in total. Additionally, children can also work in small groups.
Not everyone can be an ABA therapist. To utilize ABA techniques properly, an individual needs to have a certain level of education, as well as a license. You should always pick your ABA service providers carefully and ask a lot of questions to see if they’re the right pick for your family.