This month’s blog comes to you from Amber Nelms, owner of Triangle ABA. You can reach Amber at 919-504-4171 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Find out more about the services she offers at triangleaba.com.
What is ABA?
- Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a systemic approach to learning what motivates a child and then using that information to help create better learning and developmental opportunities that produce a more independent and happy life. It is a form of treatment but also a way of understanding behavior. ABA looks at the context within which behavior occurs, then uses this information to help identify appropriate actions to achieve desired outcomes.
- ABA involves modifying learning environments to help eliminate barriers to learning, better support the learner in building new skills, and help the learner apply those skills to new situations.
ABA has over 40 years of research-based support on its effectiveness in teaching new skills and improving challenging behavior. It is often described as the “gold standard” for autism treatment.
- Treatment that utilizes ABA is recommended by many prominent organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, National Autism Center at May Institute, Autism Society.
How does ABA therapy work?
- ABA is an individualized/personalized treatment to each individual:
- It is adapted to meet the needs of each unique person.
- It is provided in many different locations – at home, in a clinic setting, at school, and in the community.
- It provides the teaching of skills that are useful in everyday life.
- Positive reinforcement is one of the main principles used in ABA.
- When a behavior is followed by something valued (a reward), a person is more likely to repeat that behavior. Over time, this encourages positive behavior change.
- During assessment and treatment, a BCBA identifies a goal for behavior to increase. Each time the person uses the action or skill successfully, they get reinforcement (a reward).
- The reinforcement (reward) is meaningful to the individual and continually evaluated so that the child always has access to things they enjoy while they are learning –examples include swinging, access to a favorite toy, watching a video, or a sensory activity. Positive rewards encourage the person to continue using the skill. Over time this leads to meaningful behavior change.
What does ABA typically improve?
- Increase language and communication skills.
- Improved attention, focus, imitation, social skills, memory, and academic performance.
- Decreasing challenging behaviors by increasing appropriate actions that serve the same purpose for the child. Example: a child hitting mother on the arm to access a cookie…as opposed to learning the appropriate communication method needed to request the cookie.
Addressing objections of ABA
“ABA therapy stops children with autism from stimming”
- This is a misnomer…ABA focuses on teaching a child new skills needed to live an independent life. Often, a child will be given stimming with an item as the reinforcement (reward) to engage a new skill that they do not have in the repertoire. The emphasis of ABA is about expanding and giving more to the child, not taking things away. When the child has more skills, they can have more opportunities to access the things they enjoy successfully. An example would be if a child enjoys jumping on a trampoline and holding a light-up ball in their hand, watching the light bounce up in front of their eyes. Teaching the child the new skill of requesting to jump on the trampoline and requesting this specific ball would be a goal taught to the child. ABA is about Helping kids have more choices — and more joy
“Is ABA Trying to eliminate differences?”
- ABA isn’t aimed at taking away autistic children’s neurodiversity but at enabling independence. ABA is not about changing the unique and exciting way that an autistic person looks at the world but instead, it is about empowering them with the tools they need to best see the world as well as have the world see more of the beautiful person they are. ABA gave my autistic child a voice, and he has learned how to be more resilient to the changing world around him. He no longer has any obstacles holding him back. ABA is about removing barriers and improving lives. Every child is unique, special and should be encouraged to have whatever quirky interests they desire…even if it is different from their same-age peers. This is celebrated and supported within the Triangle ABA treatment model. The world needs children on the spectrum to make it a more diverse and beautiful place to live… let’s make sure we empower them with everything they could possibly need to make their footprint on this world stick!