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ABA Therapy

Life After ABA Therapy: Supporting Children With Autism Into Adulthood

This blog article is part of a series dedicated to Autism Awareness Month. To read the previous article in the series, click here!

Although autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is often discussed in the context of childhood and young adulthood, the story stretches further than an individual’s teenage years. Currently, there is no “cure” for autism, and there may never be. Individuals diagnosed with ASD will continue to face challenges stemming from their condition long after they’ve transitioned out of ABA therapy or joined a mainstream classroom. This can be quite overwhelming for parents who want to give their children the tools they need to live happy, independent lives.

No matter where you are on your autism journey, it’s important to think carefully and act deliberately to set your child up for success. Of course, every person with autism has different needs, personalities, challenges, and triumphs – there is no one-size-fits-all solution. This is one reason why ABA therapists focus on goals instead of timelines. The purpose of ABA therapy is to help individuals develop the communication, cognitive, and social skills they need to effectively function in real-life scenarios. Some people need additional help with particular life and daily functioning skills, while others may not be able to live on their own as adults.

Autism Support: Continuing Your Learning

Staying current with autism research, support strategies, and publicly available ASD resources can help parents feel more confident about transitioning their children out of ABA therapy. While studies have shown that “as many as 40 to 50 percent of children with autism can learn enough to return to mainstream classrooms if they receive high-quality, intensive, evidence-based interventions early enough,” there’s no guarantee. Rather than focusing on returning your child to a mainstream classroom, parents can instead build support structures that extend far into the future. The first step is to read up on ASD support for adults from credible sources.

American Autism Society

One great organization that has reliable and helpful information for parents is the American Autism Society. Their Learn More section has many great pages that further illustrate different topics related to autism.

Education | Autism Society 

This page discusses the rights of children diagnosed with autism as it retains to education. Specifically, it discusses IDEA or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. It discusses how this guarantees a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment for every student with a disability, and more specifically, how that can be used for better education planning. The Legal | Autism Society page also discusses other related laws in greater detail, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Olmstead Decision, and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Home and Community Based (HCBS) Settings Rule.

Intervention and Therapies | Autism Society 

Another useful page is the Intervention and Therapies section, which lists out the various types of treatment available to help your child with autism, including ABA therapy. All the information and data are sourced from the Texas Autism Resource Guide for Effective Teaching, or TARGET, and below is a drop-down menu for each intervention that tells very briefly what the treatment involves. Additionally, it offers advice on the related approaches and evaluating these different options.

American Psychological Association

In terms of pure research and academic articles, one of the best sources available is the American Psychological Association. Searching for “autism” in the database yields tons of useful information such as some of the following articles below:

Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders (apa.org) 

This page defines autism spectrum disorder as “a neurodevelopment disorder that is characterized by difficulties with social communication and social interaction and restricted and repetitive patterns in behaviors, interests, and activities.” It describes the concept of the spectrum and links out to full criteria for ASD from the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. It also discusses the diagnosis evaluation process and what is required for treatment.

Autism rates continue to rise (apa.org) 

This article discusses the rise of autism rates over the years, and how there is not necessarily more cases, but rather, diagnoses are more common and available.

Autism: Embrace differences (apa.org) 

This article discusses Autism awareness month and how important understanding and embracing the differences we all have is. It discusses the toll autism can take not only on children but their parents too.

Autism in Teens and Adults

Helping teenagers and adults with autism progress is somewhat different than supporting children with ASD. For one, children typically have a lot more time to dedicate to ABA therapy and to practicing key social and communication skills. As your child grows older, their interests and priorities will likely change, meaning your approach will also need an update. Since ABA therapy utilizes positive reinforcement, you’ll also need to find new ways to motivate your child to continue moving toward their goals. Luckily, there are a lot of resources for parents and adults with ASD that can help them feel focused, engaged, and confident.

Autism Speaks

As noted by Autism Speaks, roughly 50,000 adolescents with autism become adults each year. Over time, the number of family and friends able to provide day-to-day support may decrease, which is why publicly available resources can be so helpful. Autism Speaks helps adults diagnosed with ASD with everything from finding a job to enrolling in college. TO explore Autism Speak’s resources, check out this handy guide.

Easterseals

Easterseals provides direct services for adults with autism that include day programs, virtual workshops, independent living support, and much more. Along with education resources, the organization offers useful tips and learning materials that help adults with ASD plan their futures.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) maintains a variety of government programs dedicated to supporting adolescents and adults diagnosed with autism. They help ASD individuals access Medicaid and Medicare resources, build self-advocacy and independence, and reguarly publish new research and studies on autism.

Autism is a lifelong journey, but Applied ABC is here to help make the road ahead easier to navigate. We are committed to empowering parents and teaching them ABA techniques that can be used at home, outside of normal therapy hours. Staying involved and engaged in your child’s ABA therapy is the best way to set them up for success and to prepare yourself for whatever comes next.

For those of you who stuck around to see the end of our Autism Awareness Month blog series, we want to thank you for being a part of this incredible experience. Applied ABC will continue to publish useful information, parenting tips, and recommendations about autism and ABA therapy moving forward.

If you’re interested in learning more about our ABA therapy services or how to sign up, fill out an online ABA assessment today!

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3196209/

https://www.autismspeaks.org/tool-kit-excerpt/navigating-adult-services

https://www.easterseals.com/our-programs/autism-services/adults-with-autism.html

https://www.hhs.gov/programs/topic-sites/autism/autism-support/index.html

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How ABA Therapy Works At Applied ABC

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