A Guide to ABA Therapy

10 Reasons Why ABA Therapy is Effective for Autism Treatment

When hearing experts talk about Autism and Autism treatment, parents often hear the phrase “it’s based on scientific evidence” or its methods are “scientifically proven.” This is absolutely the case, as its principles have developed over decades of research and results.

However, as the family of those children diagnosed with Autism, there is more to your child’s development than just science. We know that you want to make sure your child gets not only the best treatment, but the most engaging and beneficial treatment for them as individuals.

Why do we choose ABA therapy for children with Autism?

ABA therapy is unique in the way it helps children learn. There are reasons why it’s historically been the most effective way of treating those children who have been diagnosed with Autism.

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Here, we will highlight the top 10 reasons we believe ABA therapy is so effective for Autism treatment.

1. Individualized and Customizable Treatment

As a parent, you know your child is unique. Each child, whether diagnosed with Autism or not, has different strengths, needs, and is receptive to different forms of teaching. In the case of children with an Autism diagnosis, the variables are even more prevalent from one child to the next. For this reason, we need a way of teaching that can be tailored to that individual child.

ABA therapy is known for being customizable and individualized for each child that receives services. When your child is assessed for treatment, the ABA team will be looking for what your child’s strengths are, what they need more development with, their learning history, behavioral needs, teaching methods they are receptive to, as well as what motivates them to learn. Only after having this information will a plan be drawn up for your child’s services. Because of this, you can be confident that your child is receiving therapy that will target exactly what will be beneficial to them as opposed to just a blanket teaching program used for everyone.

At Ally Pediatric Therapy specifically, each child is provided with an Individualized Treatment Plan (ITP) written by the BCBA and the supervising clinicians. An ITP outlines measurable objectives based on the unique challenges and deficits of each child. Evidence-based assessments will determine your child’s exact needs and allow for the ITP to be created.

Each treatment package includes an evidenced-based assessment tool, including but not limited to:

  • Verbal Behavior Milestone Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP)
  • PEAK Relational Training
  • Assessment of Basic Language Learners- Revised (ABLLSR)
  • Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS)
  • Essentials for Living (EFLS)
  • Assessment of Functional Living Skills (AFLS)
  • Feeding assessment
  • Speech evaluation
  • OT evaluation

Other assessments are available and administered as deemed necessary by the Intake Coordinator. Ally Pediatric Therapy provides a comprehensive assessment package to fully assess your child’s needs and create an inclusive and integrated program to help your child reach his or her maximum potential. Should problem behavior be reported or observed, the BCBA and supervising clinicians may do a functional behavior assessment (FBA), or functional analysis (FA). The services and goals recommended in the ITP are described herein.

2. Emphasis on developing social and communicative skills

ABA therapy targets the core deficits of Autism Spectrum Disorder, social skills and communication. Typically, children with this diagnosis struggle to connect with peers, properly communicate their wants and needs, maintain eye contact, and read body language or other nonverbal cues. ABA therapy serves to improve these skills and help the process of integrating your child more effectively into their environments.

A common theme you’ll notice with this guide is the fact that ABA therapy is individualized based on specific needs. This fact is no less important in the area of social and communicative skills. A lot of times, children who aren’t able to properly communicate their needs resort to other behaviors to get what they want. This can come in the form of aggression, self-injury, tantrum, etc. ABA therapy is great at taking these maladaptive behaviors, as we call them, and replacing them with more appropriate and effective ways of communicating.

Peer to peer interaction is encouraged in ABA sessions, even to the point of developing specific programs to address this. Encouraging engaging play with peers, making eye contact with those they are interacting with, and teaching to pick up on certain nonverbal cues can all be built into your child’s ABA therapy. If your child is struggling to find an effective way to communicate with others, the team will teach different ways to do so. Therapists will always be looking for opportunities for your child to practice this communication during a session.

3. Improvement of Executive Function

Executive function refers to the everyday skills children need to learn, think critically, adapt to the environment, make decisions, and be aware of emotions. These skills are necessary for independence in children. Those diagnosed with Autism tend to struggle in these areas and may need extra attention addressing them.

ABA therapy and the programs developed can work on things like organization skills, problem solving, memorization, thinking adaptability, controlling emotions, and being aware of peer emotions. ABA focuses on the function of behaviors in their environment. Because of this, therapists are able to help develop positive executive function behaviors.

4. Detailed and thorough programming

ABA is great at taking a skill or behavior and really getting down to the details of function. If your child has a skill deficiency, ABA programs can break them down and find what is impeding your child’s progress in that area. By finding the root issue, we can address that and work from there. The programs developed are designed to do this and help your child really master the skill.

As mentioned previously, ABA focuses on the function of behavior. This means that therapists can see exactly why a behavior occurs, what environmental factors are present or any other precursors. By having a full understanding of why a behavior is occurring, we can effectively work to find replacement behaviors or communication methods that are more appropriate for that situation.

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5. Develops independence in children

Parents of children with Autism often worry that their child will not develop the independence needed to have that quality of life they seek. They often have to rely on others to help them with everyday skills or relying on them to decipher what they are trying to communicate. The nature of ABA therapy and the way we teach organically develops this independence.

Each skill that is taught, and each behavior that is developed, is done so with the goal of helping the child gain independence in that specific area. Also, the goals we work on with your child are goals that will naturally have your child become more independent. Things like effective communication, daily skills, keeping emotions in check, all play a part in your child’s independence. Therapists are working on these during each session with your child.

The ultimate goal of ABA is to increase the quality of life for your child and this is done through the development of independence in all areas of your child’s life that are important to you and your family.

6. Meaningful Learning

Referring to the idea of independence, the learning that takes place with your child needs to be relevant and meaningful. We want to work on things with your child that are relevant to their needs and will help them be successful in their natural environments. Because everything is so individualized, we can target the areas your child needs to accomplish this goal of meaningful learning.

7. Includes parents and family members in child’s therapy program

Too often, parents are left out of the loop with their child’s development. They also don’t get the opportunity they should to take part in that development. ABA therapy encourages parent participation and, in fact, is more effective when there is that participation. This is because we try to teach each skill and behavior with the idea of generalizing. This means to carry the learned skill or behavior across settings and across people.

Having the parents and families participate and learn about ABA techniques allows for more consistency in your child’s development. The most effective therapy includes having its teaching methods adopted outside of the session. This means teaching the families how to interact more effectively with their children to further develop skills and behaviors is in the best interest of everyone involved.

8. Use of reinforcers and motivational techniques

Let’s face it, some children aren’t always in the mood to learn and we need to have effective ways of keeping the learning momentum in these situations. ABA therapy heavily uses reinforcers as motivation for children to want to learn and keep at certain programs. By understanding what each child finds interesting, fun, and motivating, therapists can incorporate them into the session to keep it fresh, engaging, and motivating.

Some of the skills your child learns may be difficult for them to grasp, and naturally they’ll want to avoid these. By incorporating these preferred toys, activities, and food, we can help to get that learning momentum back and give them the motivation to keep at it. There are even teaching methods within ABA that are entirely play based. Things like Pivotal Response Treatment are completely play-based methods of teaching and allow for the child to drive the learning process. These methods can be especially effective when teaching young children.

9. Allows for fun, engaging teaching methods

The use of these reinforcers and motivational tactics can keep sessions fun for both the child and the therapist. ABA therapy allows the therapist to be creative in teaching your child. It also encourages engaging activity between both the child and the therapist. This is so important, because if both sides aren’t enjoying the process then the learning becomes less meaningful. ABA therapy allows for a more welcoming learning environment, one that provides plenty of opportunity for fun and engaging activity.

10. Thorough data allows for adaptation on the fly

Because therapists are constantly taking data throughout a session, and the team is always analyzing this data, programming changes can be made when necessary. The way programs are easily adapted based on how the data shows progress or lack of progress, makes ABA that much more beneficial to the child.

The data is closely monitored to make sure that the program is progressing in the right direction. Based on this information, the ABA team can decide quickly whether to try other tactics for those programs that aren’t as successful or to move on to more complicated skills or behaviors based on those that are mastered. More so than any other teaching method, ABA therapy is a self-correcting practice.

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Ally Pediatric Therapy’s Integrated Service Model

Ally Pediatric Therapy has a unique integrated service model that utilizes both speech and language therapy and ABA therapy. Our BCBAs and our SLPs (collectively, our supervising clinicians) conduct their respective assessments and discuss results prior to creating a collaborative comprehensive plan. The supervising clinicians work together to fully understand your child’s deficits and each discipline contributes to assisting your child in reaching their maximum potential. At Ally, we believe that SLPs are experts in the “form” of communication and BCBAs are experts in the function; each contributing valuable viewpoints. Collaboration amongst professionals is of the utmost importance to helping your child succeed.

Ally Pediatric Therapy’s Services

Ally Pediatric Therapy offers evidence-based services carefully designed to target the deficits commonly found in children with the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), such as impaired speech, language, communication, and social skills. In addition to our in-depth knowledge and experience treating the characteristics included in the diagnosis of ASD, we recognize the importance of catering to the individual needs and preferences of each child and his/her family. Creative, fun and engaging activities are integrated throughout all assessment and treatment sessions to maximize learning potential and encourage social interaction. Rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach, we view all children with ASD as unique and deserving of individualized treatment programs. We also understand the scope in which ABA services can help the children we serve. With this in mind, our in-home and clinic-based services may include:

  • Assessment Package
  • Functional Behavior Assessments
  • Functional Analysis
  • Behavior Intervention Plans
  • Speech-Language Therapy
  • Self-Help Skills Training
  • Oral-Motor Therapy (TalkTools®)
  • Parent Training and Resources
  • Social Skills Lunch Bunch
  • Consulting Services
  • VB/ABA Intensive Intervention
  • Workshops
  • Feeding Therapy
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Ally Pediatric Therapy takes extreme care in the practices we conduct within our clinics. We pride ourselves in putting together the most talented ABA team possible so that we can put our patients in the best place to succeed. We fully understand the apprehension parents experience when deciding who to turn to in order to help their children. For this reason, we want to be as open and transparent as possible with you during this journey. Giving you the tools you need to be informed and being available to answer any and all questions you may have along the way, you can be sure your child is getting the best care out there.

We know how effective ABA can be for the children we serve. We encourage any parent of a child with Autism to find out more about why it can be so effective. Parent involvement is something we emphasize at Ally, meaning we are open with why and how we are doing the things we do, and we want to make sure you’re always on the same page. Whether this means parent training or consistent feedback, we want to keep you in the loop. Fill out this form to learn more about how our team here at Ally Pediatric Therapy can help your child through the use of ABA.

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