As a parent whose child has recently received an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis, you may be at various stages of discovering Autism. Whether it is accepting the diagnosis, learning more about the symptoms and challenges, connecting with peer parents and support groups, or researching potential treatments, you are likely doing everything possible to secure your child’s health and future. During your search, you will come across the term, ‘Applied Behavior Analysis’ or (ABA) therapy, the most evidence-based treatment for improving the quality of life of children with Autism and supporting their families.
The experts at Capable Cubs, a leading ABA therapy center in Bergen County, can help you break down this accepted “gold-standard” treatment for Autism.
A Brief Guide to Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy
History of ABA: First introduced in the early 1950s and 1960s by Dr. Ole Ivaar Lovaas, (known as the grandfather of ABA), ABA therapy is a structured approach towards behavior modification in individuals with ASD. In its original state, the program involved an intensive approach, including rewards for good behaviors and severe punishment for unwanted behaviors. When Dr. Lovaas worked with a test group of non-verbal, institutionalized children with special needs on a 14-month long, 40-hours a week program, 47% of the group caught up to their peers and were able to increase their functional skills to live more independently at the end of the program. However, over the years, many therapists studied Dr. Lovaas’ techniques and modified them into newer techniques, introducing new types of ABA instruction such as “pivotal response training” or “naturalistic environment teaching”. In time, ABA therapy has evolved into a highly effective and individualized program that uses positive reinforcement to shape and develop essential skills while reducing disruptive behaviors in children with Autism that impede their ability to acquire new goals.
What Does ABA do for Children with ASD?
The goal of ABA therapy is to help children with ASD increase their ability to become more independent in all areas of life and integrate into their communities. The various techniques and interventions of ABA therapy focus on:
- Developing motor skills, verbal skills, cognitive abilities, essential life skills and self-care tasks (such as grooming, toileting, etc.) for promoting functional independence.
- Enhancing expressive communication skills and language skills for improved social interactions and increased ability to obtain their wants and needs.
- Teaching self-monitoring techniques that help the child in consciously recognizing and reducing destructive, disruptive, or repetitive behaviors.
- Improving memory and attention for achieving on-task behaviors related to academic or professional endeavors.
Overall, an ABA-based curriculum:
- Provides an individualized, supportive learning environment for building requisite skills and abilities.
- Creates a positive and supportive learning environment that reduces challenging behaviors and enhances the frequency and consistency of functional and appropriate behaviors.
How Does ABA Therapy Work?
Experts suggest that early diagnosis and commitment to intensive ABA therapy for a minimum of 40 hours a week can lead to the best outcomes for treating ASD. Most ABA therapists will use a variety of techniques, customized to every child’s unique needs and developmental goals. Some of the popular methods include:
- Discrete Trial Training (DTT): The therapist breaks down a task into small, achievable targets while providing high levels of reinforcement following each trial. The terminal goal includes reducing the number of prompts needed to achieve the appropriate response.
- Early Start Denver Model (EDSM): A play-based method that teaches multiple skills within one activity or exercise.
- Pivotal Response Training (PRT): Another play-based method that enhances critical social skills, such as playing nicely, sharing toys, sitting still, speaking quietly, and so on.
There are a number of other techniques and interventions used in ABA therapy. Typically, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) will design and oversee a personalized ABA curriculum by taking into consideration your child’s age, current skill levels and abilities, and specific needs within their developmental goals. A Registered Behavior Therapist (RBT) will administer the one-to-one therapy in a center-based setting, or through at-home ABA sessions. Once your child learns some of the basic prerequisite skills, the RBT may administer ABA therapy in natural settings, such as community locations, cafeterias, parks, supermarkets, or other real-world settings. At this stage, the focus is on helping the child generalize the skills and behaviors they have learned, and incorporate them in day-to-day situations or ordinary social experiences. As parents or caregivers, actively participating in your child’s therapy will also equip you with crucial skills and techniques that you can integrate into their day-to-day lives to continuously foster their growth and development.
Is ABA Therapy Right for Your Child?
The various interventions and techniques used as part of ABA therapy can potentially help your child:
- Develop essential activities of daily living skills
- Make friends and socialize
- Increase their ability to communicate more effectively
- Cope better with real world situations or unexpected changes
- Succeed in various spheres of life
- Improve the overall quality of life
As parents or caregivers, it is important to:
- Engage a trained and experienced ABA therapy team, who can create a customized ABA program for your child with Autism.
- Discuss the desired outcomes with your treatment team in order to help them set up critical and measurable goals.
- Keep a close eye on the process and be aware of your child’s response to therapy.
Explore Autism Treatments at a Trusted ABA Therapy Center in Bergen County
At Capable Cubs, we specialize in high-quality ABA services for children with Autism. Our trained and experienced treatment team uses a unique and individualized clinical approach that involves multiple ABA methods, including natural environment training (NET), differential reinforcement systems, personalized system of instruction (PSI), and discrete trial training (DTT). Our modern learning facility in the heart of Ramsey, New Jersey includes one-on-one treatment rooms, as well as larger spaces for group instruction and gross motor development. Additionally, we offer telehealth services for parent training as well as for ABA therapy for children ages 6 to 10 years.
We foster a high level of collaboration between every child’s parents, teachers, caregivers, and health care providers in order to ensure comprehensive and consistent care beyond our formal therapy sessions. Our ABA therapists create a detailed roadmap for every child, with important learning milestones, as well as fade-out plans for successfully transitioning out of our care and into a more independent life.