Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is an evidence-based best practice treatment that focuses on the science of behavior and learning to overall decrease negative behaviors and increase positive behaviors. ABA therapy utilizes the understanding of how behavior works, how behaviors are affected by the environment, and how learning can be accomplished.
In the beginning stages of ABA therapy for children, a therapist will fully evaluate your child. This will include asking your child about their strengths and weaknesses and interacting with the child in different ways to develop a better understanding of how they react, communicate, and what types of skills they obtain.
Plan of Care
After a full assessment, the therapist will develop a plan and treatment goals. This plan will be individualized with specific treatments and strategies that will help your child reach the proposed goals. Parents and caregivers will also be involved throughout the process as goals are unlikely to be met if those spending a majority of time with the child are not fully engaged with ABA therapy.
When someone is rewarded after a positive behavior, that person will most likely repeat that behavior. Rewards must be meaningful to the individual such as receiving a toy, ability to go somewhere special, affirmation, or much more. Behavior is most likely to change when rewarded. Therefore, negative behaviors will be less likely to occur as the individual will know that rewards are not given after these types of behaviors. This is the primary focus and strategy that is used in ABA therapy.
Introduce Complex Skills
While the main objective of ABA therapy is to eliminate negative behaviors and commend positive ones as the child advances additional skills can be introduced. The focus is first set on the ability of the child to perform simple skills such as eating properly, brushing their teeth, etc. As these behaviors improve and continue, more advanced skills can be taught. It is important that all skills of any level are rewarded in order for the child to better understand that these behaviors are encouraged.
Should My Child Receive ABA?
The benefits your child can receive from ABA therapy are endless. The elimination or significant reduction in negative behaviors and the ability to greatly improve skills can make incredible changes in your child’s life for the better. Begin by discussing the option of ABA therapy with your child’s pediatrician. Once determined if ABA is an appropriate choice for your child, your pediatrician can refer you to a board-certified analyst that provides ABA therapy to initiate your child’s treatment plan and start working on achieving you and your child’s goals.