Whether you’re new to the special needs community or have a family member with an Autism diagnosis, you may be wondering, “What exactly is ABA therapy?” If you’ve spent time researching services for individuals with Autism, you’ve probably come across the term before and may have wondered if it’s a good fit for your family. Here, we’re going to share what ABA therapy is, how it works, and who it can benefit.
What is ABA Therapy?
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy is the scientific approach to modifying behavior, improving social interactions, and facilitating learning. ABA takes an evidence-based approach, rooted in the scientific method. It can be used to develop basic skills, such as listening and imitating, as well as more complex skills, like reading and conversing. ABA therapy can also decrease behaviors that interfere with learning.
ABA therapy works from the concept that behavior is acquired through interactions with the environment, and that changes in the environment can positively shape a behavior. While many children learn naturally from their environment without intervention, children with learning or developmental issues may need more structure to acquire the same fundamental skills. ABA sets up this type of environment for them, in essence teaching children how to learn.
How does ABA Therapy Work?
ABA therapy should be individualized for each person, so that program elements address specific skills, needs, interests, preferences, and goals. Complex skills are often broken down into a series of small steps to allow a client to learn a skill in stages. Each step is then individually taught using prompts, which are gradually eliminated as the steps are mastered. ABA therapy uses positive reinforcement to keep clients motivated to continually improve. Throughout the process, qualified behavior analysts systematically track and evaluate progress, and upon mastery, a client should be able to integrate the skill into their daily life.
Another core element of ABA therapy is reducing and replacing problem behaviors, such as self-injury or aggression, with more appropriate behavior. Behavior analysts work with parents and guardians to identify problem behaviors and determine their cause. A behavior analyst will then develop a plan to replace the inappropriate behavior with new skills, such as communication.
Who Can Benefit from ABA Therapy?
ABA programs have successfully worked for a variety of learners and ages, with and without disabilities, and in a multitude of settings. ABA therapy is often considered the gold-standard for helping individuals with Autism, developmental disabilities, and behavior issues to master new skills and decrease problem behaviors.
Early intervention is most impactful, and research has shown that children who participated in early, intensive ABA programs often acquired skills that allowed them to participate in mainstream classrooms with little or no ongoing help and improved their quality of life. Learn more about the benefits of early intervention here on our blog.
At Innovative Behavior Options, we offer in-home ABA services throughout the Atlanta area and center-based ABA therapy in Roswell, GA. We aim to create genuine partnerships with children, families, schools, organizations, and professionals to provide the highest possible standard of applied behavior analytic consultation. If you have any questions or want to learn more about the services we offer, please give us a call at 770-250-0093.