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What Is ABA Therapy?

You may be surprised to learn there are more people with autism in the world than you realized. In fact, autism spectrum disorder affects 1 in every 44 children in the United States. The rate of children being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders has increased over the past 20 years, as doctors now recognized early warning signs as they grow. Amazingly, early intensive behavioral intervention can significantly help children with autism.

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a therapy that can help improve the communication skills, reading skills, self-care and daily living skills, learning skills, adaptive skills, and social skills of children with autism through positive reinforcement techniques.  Most experts consider ABA therapy and ABA techniques the gold-standard autism treatment, especially for children recently diagnosed. The treatment has been shown to work well for children with ASD or similar developmental conditions and can be paired with other treatments like occupational therapy, feeding therapy, and speech-language therapy. Here are some things about ABA therapy that every parent with a child with autism should know.

ABA Therapy & Functions of Behavior

The primary principles of ABA therapy, reinforcement and punishment, impact the four functions of behavior, which include social or attention-seeking behaviors, sensory or automatic behaviors, access to or denial of preferred items or activities, and avoidance or escape of non-preferred situations. Reinforcement strengthens behavior, while punishment weakens behavior. These functions are targeted by reinforcing socially acceptable behaviors, many times communication, to get ones' needs met, in lieu of using challenging behaviors. Below are principles of ABA therapy, along with some examples:
  • Behaviors can be strengthened or weakened by their consequences
If a child throws a temper tantrum at the grocery store wanting candy and their parents give in, they learn that screaming or making a scene increases the likelihood of their parents buying what they want. The tantrum was reinforced with buying of candy. If a child does not get what they want after throwing a tantrum, they learn screaming and making a scene does not get them anywhere.
  • Environment affects desired behaviors.
If a child is bullied at their school, they may engage in challenging behaviors in order to avoid or escape. This can mean skipping school, pretending to be sick, refusing to eat, becoming overly clingy, etc.
  • Generally, behaviors need to be reinforced for socially significant changes.
Continuing the example of the grocery store meltdown. if a child doesn’t get what they want after throwing a tantrum, they will learn their parents won't accept their requests every time. It may take several tantrums for them to learn this lesson, but sticking with your refusal will eventually work. Ultimately, the child needs reinforcement for appropriate tolerance behaviors and/or use of appropriate communication.
  • Punishment may weaken or decrease behaviors.
If a child learns and follows the expectations of their parents, many times they get to enjoy reinforcement and extra perks such as more time to play or a new puzzle game. This encourages them to behave appropriately. However, the times they do not follow their parents' expectations, they may be punished by not receiving the reinforcement. Generally, you see the challenging behaviors decrease due to punishment, or not receiving access to reinforcement.

Benefits of ABA Therapy

ABA therapy sessions are all about improving the child’s intellectual functioning and setting them up with skills across all domains to help them lead a happy life. The ultimate goal of this therapy, through the use of positive reinforcement, is to give the child the opportunity to reach their full potential. Here are some reasons why every parent should consider ABA therapy for their child with special needs.
  • It Improves Communication and Social Skills

ABA therapy helps improve communication and develop the overall social and emotional skills of children with autism. With the tools they learn in their ABA sessions, they can communicate their wants and needs, make friends, and get along with their peers.
  • It Enhances Independent Life Skills

ABA specialists help children with special needs learn independent coping and life skills. Receiving a positive consequence for completing simple tasks such as brushing their teeth, getting dressed, interacting with other children, etc., will teach your child to continue this behavior.
  • It Increases Life Satisfaction

A well-designed ABA curriculum helps your child realize doing certain tasks aren't so bad, which sets them up for success in life and readies them to be independent. An improved quality of life makes the child feel empowered and satisfied.

Explore Therapyland’s ABA Therapy Program and Help Your Child Live a Better Life!

ABA therapy has shown effectiveness for children with autism. At Therapyland, we have designed an ABA therapy program to help children learn the needed skills across all domains, including communication, self-help, adaptive, social, pre-academic, etc. We understand each child with autism has unique symptoms and we will tailor the ABA treatment to get the best results. Our highly qualified team of registered behavior therapists are experienced in helping children with autism. Your child will work with registered behavior therapists and a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst to learn new skills and discourage problem behaviors. Are you ready to see your child unlock their full potential? Call us at 678-648-7644 or fill out the contact form to book the best ABA therapy services at one of our locations in Alpharetta, Lawrenceville, or Kennesaw. We provide other services, such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, and feeding therapy, that also help children with autism develop functional life skills. Our therapists collaborate between different disciplines and will provide you with personalized solutions designed to treat specific symptoms of your child. Don't hesitate to contact us today!