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ABA Therapy

How Does ABA Therapy Work?

The purpose of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is to help children with autism reach their fullest potential. Of course, that’s going to look a little different for each child, which is why every ABA treatment plan is highly customized to meet individual needs. ABA treatment is designed to support development toward being an independent and contributing member of society. ABA therapy can make a meaningful difference to a child’s quality of life by empowering them to do more on their own.

A secondary—yet important—reason to pursue ABA therapy is to improve home life for the entire family. As children become more and more capable of handling tasks on their own, things run a little smoother at home. As any parent knows, this is true of all children! ABA therapy can help children with autism and their families move toward a higher level of independence that may not be achievable without ABA therapy. The value of independence extends well beyond the home. Independent behaviors learned through ABA therapy can make it easier for children with autism to integrate at school, in social settings, and in public areas.

Key behaviors ABA treatment can help improve

No two children with autism will have the exact same behavior and treatment goals. Goals are determined by the child’s age, developmental milestones, ability to communicate, and much more. But there are some key behaviors that are commonly addressed with ABA therapy.

A common priority of ABA therapy is communication. Many parents of children with autism share a similar struggle: “My child can’t tell me what they need.” A child who can’t communicate and thus fulfill their wants and needs is bound to become frustrated, which can lead to other challenges. ABA therapy can teach children with autism how to communicate effectively. For some children, this will include one-word phrases or full sentences. Other children, including nonverbal children, may learn to communicate by pointing to a picture or an object.

Another priority is the reduction of maladaptive behavior. Maladaptive behavior can lead to serious problems for children with autism and their families and caretakers, including injury of self and others. If a certain behavior is too disruptive, it may prevent a child with autism from participating in classrooms or other important learning environments. Maladaptive behavior is also a major contributor to caregiver burnout. Reducing the frequency of maladaptive behaviors through autism behavior therapy can make a significant, positive difference for the child and the family. ABA therapy focuses on identifying the antecedents that lead to these behaviors and discovering ways to alter both the antecedent environment and the behavior itself.

In the context of the home, ABA therapy may prioritize behaviors that empower the child to be more independent. This is especially important for families with multiple children who all need support from their parents. ABA therapy may focus on teaching a child with autism to get dressed, use the bathroom, and attend to other personal needs on their own—or with less hands-on support for a caretaker.

For children with autism who attend school, socializing with other children may be a priority. Some children with autism may not know how to engage in appropriate play with their peers, so their treatment program may focus on social skills that allow them to interact with their classmates in an appropriate way. Appropriate play is an important gateway to other peer interactions that are critical to classroom success.

Learn more about the key behaviors that ABA therapy can help improve >

What makes ABA therapy different from other autism treatments?

ABA therapy differs from other treatments in a few specific ways. The most significant differentiator is time. A child with autism may receive 10 to 30 hours of ABA therapy every week, depending on his or her needs. Other therapies, such as speech or occupational therapy, are usually limited to one thirty-minute session per week.

Another key difference between ABA therapy and other therapies is specificity—or lack thereof. Many therapies focus on a defined set of skills and benchmarks. But ABA therapy can be customized to correct and teach a huge variety of behaviors, from putting on socks to interacting appropriately with peers. A child’s age, developmental stage, family life, and more are considered when creating a treatment plan.

Learn more about how ABA therapy can support other autism therapies >

The pros and cons of ABA therapy

The greatest and most important benefit of applied behavior analysis is simple: It works. ABA therapy is a trusted science that has been supporting the growth, development, and wellbeing of children with autism for decades. ABA therapy can dramatically improve the quality of life for children with autism and their families. Additionally, ABA therapy is highly customizable to meet the needs of each individual child. In-depth assessments are part of the process to ensure that the child’s autism treatment team can create a plan tailored to their special qualities and needs.

The primary drawback of ABA therapy is the time commitment. Patience is critical to the success of ABA treatment because the results will not be immediate. Families must be prepared to commit 10 to 40 hours a week to ABA therapy to see a meaningful difference. But it’s worth it.

That’s why Applied ABC offers flexible solutions, such as home-based autism therapy and other treatment options. Our goal is to make ABA therapy accessible and feasible for every family.

Read more about the pros and cons of ABA Therapy >

How ABA therapy works at Applied ABC

Applied ABC is dedicated to providing flexible options for ABA therapy, so every child with autism can get the support they need. Our working hours extend far past the traditional workday, and we can provide therapy at your home, your child’s school, or one of our autism treatment centers. Your care team at Applied ABC will work closely with you to set up a schedule and treatment program that works for your family.

ABA therapy is conducted by a close-knit team of board-certified behavior analysts (BCBAs), registered behavior technicians (RBTs), and other support staff. But there’s more going on behind the scenes. At Applied ABC, supporting our BCBAs and RBTs is a nonnegotiable priority. We believe firmly that BCBAs and RBTs can do their best work when they feel supported by leadership and the administrative team. So we do everything we can to ensure that these passionate professionals are empowered to provide the best possible care and treatment for your child.

If you want to ask questions or learn more about ABA therapy at Applied ABC, fill out our Getting Started Application. We’ll connect you with one of our experienced professionals.

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ABA Therapy Basics

Examples Of ABA Therapy

How ABA Therapy Works At Applied ABC

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