We discover more about Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy, a common treatment for children with autism to see what exactly it offers and how you can get your child involved. We’ll show you how to find a qualified therapist and what you can expect from the best ABA therapy programs available.
Autism is a growing condition in the US, with one in 68 children being diagnosed as having autism, according to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention. As we become more aware of the condition and what it means, this number appears to rise, and the good news is that there are now options for helping to manage it.
Applied Behavior Analysis is one of the leading treatment options that can help improve conditions for people with autism. This therapy focuses on improving behaviors that will be helpful for both children and adults, although it’s usually targeted at children for the best results.
Finding the best ABA therapy for yourself or your child will be a matter of trial and error, as well as looking through reputable providers. There’s a lot to consider as to the type of program and therapy they would do, whether it’s self-administered at home, or if you have a professional ABA therapist to guide them through it.
We’re going to look at the options when it comes to finding the best ABA therapy, what you should look for in a skilled therapist and the benefits that it can offer those with autism. With some background information on this treatment, you’ll see the amazing results that it’s been able to provide those who identify with autism.
What Is ABA?
Applied Behavior Analysis, commonly referred to as ABA, is a type of therapy that’s based on the science of learning. Used since the 1960s, this type of therapy is common with children who have developmental disorders and autism, and the recent rise in awareness of the latter has made it a chosen form of treatment.
ABA teaches people how to improve certain behaviors, and this can include everything from hygiene practice to communication and social skills. The therapy uses an understanding of behavior and applies it to real situations so the individual can learn what is best, and what behaviors might not be helpful in certain situations.
The goal of ABA therapy is to show those with autism what behaviors are helpful so they can improve them, and which should be decreased due to their ineffectiveness or harmfulness. It is the hope of ABA therapists that those they work with will not only improve their skills but also reduce their need to rely on other special services.
Who Uses ABA Therapy?
ABA therapy was around long before autism was classified as a condition in the US, but these days that is where the therapy is used most prevalently. According to the Center for Autism, this therapy has been proven to maintain positive behaviors and learn new skills, which can be troubling for those with the condition.
As those with autism sometimes struggle to transfer skills and behaviors through various situations, ABA therapy can be very useful in teaching them how to do this. Most therapists recommend around 20 hours a week and started before the age of 4 quite intensely, where possible, but after this age, it is still hugely beneficial.
For older individuals, ABA can still be a helpful tool to have. Even without autism, this type of therapy can help elderly people with memory loss, the loss of strength, and the breakdown of relationships. Therefore, it’s a very useful resource for treating all kinds of mental and physical conditions.
Working with an ABA Therapist
The most common way to use ABA therapy is working directly with the therapist. These skilled individuals specialize in this form of therapy and have options for how many sessions and hours a week your child would see them.
No two sessions would be alike, and no two therapists would be alike either, however, there are some general things you can expect. How long you spend with them and which methods are focused on more will depend on your child and their own special needs.
These therapists can treat your child in various locations, depending on comfort and convenience. Many of them have established training and therapy rooms with all of the resources, or they might be able to visit with your child at home.
What is required is a constant review of progress to understand what methods are working and those that aren’t. Continuous modification and assessment will ensure that every minute spent with the child will be worthwhile.
What to Look for in A Qualified ABA Therapist
Finding a qualified ABA therapist who you trust to work with your child can be a huge challenge as you want to be sure they are the best. To become a behavior analyst therapist, you need to be a licensed clinical therapist who has also had additional study and training in applied behavior analysis.
The governing board is the Behavior Analyst Certification Board and they are in charge of approving therapists who can carry out this work. You can find one of these by looking for the BCBA after their name, indicating a master’s degree, or BCBA-D, indicating a doctorate level degree.
To find one in your area, the best approach is to speak to your pediatrician for a referral. They will be able to help you decide whether this type of therapy would be best for your child and point you in the direction of a qualified therapist. From there, you can perform further checks like reviews and recommendations, and also see if your insurance will cover the therapy.
What to Ask an ABA Therapist
Finding the best ABA therapist means finding the best fit for you. Every family and child will have different needs and you’ll need to choose a therapist that is going to align with those. Here are some questions you might feel comfortable asking potential therapists before you decide on your final choice.
Obviously, you may have additional questions about their services or want to know more about a specific part of what they offer. As you must trust this therapist to assist your child and help them cope with living with autism, it’s essential to feel comfortable and happy with who you choose.
Home Based ABA Therapy
Though clinical based APA therapy is the most common approach, there are some parents who prefer to take matters into their own hands. There are various home-based ABA therapy programs available that can be set up so that parents are involved in running their child’s treatment directly, rather than having a therapist do it.
These setups can differ greatly depending on the family. Some might use a therapist for some parts and then do the rest themselves, others will take complete control. Numerous studies have confirmed that having parental involvement is the key to success with ABA therapy, so even those who visit a clinic will still need a lot of input from their parents to get results.
Being actively engaged in your child’s treatment means you can see for yourself where they are improving and know what doesn’t work. As you know your child better than anyone, having this inside input could be highly valuable. However, it’s not something you can implement on your own, as there are many guidelines you should be following.
Those who prefer home-based therapy usually meet with a therapist first who helps them devise a plan they can do in their own home. They may prefer to have reviews every now and then with the therapist, however, it’s not a necessity if you have no concerns. Whatever you choose for your child’s treatment will be respected.
The Benefits of Using the Best ABA Therapy
There are many wonderful benefits found with ABA therapy and there’s a good reason why this therapy is known as the best practice treatment for children with autism. These are just some of the benefits that both you and your child will experience when you begin ABA therapy.
This is one of the leading evidence-based interventions available for those with autism. Countless studies have shown just how helpful it is and the real results it can deliver. For those who prefer their treatments with facts and actual results, ABA therapy will give you that peace of mind.
Not only do children with autism suffer in their day to day lives, but so too do their parents and teachers. Having your child engaged in ABA therapy will make your role as a parent easier and will also allow their teacher to communicate and educate them better.
One of the leading concerns with autistic children is their inability to socialize at a normal level. ABA therapy aims to improve these social skills to a level that allows them to communicate with peers, workmates, and friends in a way that would have never been possible before.
For many families, dealing with something like autism can feel like a strain or a reduction in the quality of the life they should be living. ABA therapy can deliver a tremendous improvement in life satisfaction as they are now able to communicate, become part of the community, and feel better about themselves.
Living with autism can sometimes mean relying on others, but ABA therapy aims to help these children become independent. Everything from basic social skills to hygiene and cleaning can be taught, allowing them to live on their own when the time comes.
Best Practice for Children with Autism
If you have a child with autism and want to help them with an evidence-based intervention that has proven results, finding the best ABA therapy is a great place to start. Autism is still a relatively new condition in the grand scheme of things, but knowing there’s something so beneficial out there can make the journey easier.
Take your time to find the right therapist that will work with your child, and don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. Your health provider should be able to point you in the right direction but it’s advisable to do your own research as well.
As we learn more about autism and begin to understand the condition, treatments like this will only become more beneficial in helping them to deal with it. To improve the life satisfaction of your child and help them to function and improve their skills, ABA therapy is a proven method that could deliver fantastic results.