If your child has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you want to do everything in your power to make their life less stressful. Using the best modern resources to create a foundation of education and lifelong support is ideal, and Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) is the preeminent therapy for treating ASD today.
It can seem daunting to try and learn all about different behavioral therapies, which is why we’re going to cover:
- What is ABA Therapy?
- ABA Principles
- 7 Tips for Parents of Children in ABA Therapy
- How to Start ABA therapy for your child
We hope that this information lets you make the best choice for your child and family to create a healthy and supportive environment.
What is ABA Therapy?
Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy is designed to improve learning, communication, and life skills via mostly positive reinforcement techniques. It is meant to teach these skills in multiple environments so that ABA patients can generalize the mechanisms they gain and apply them to many life situations.
ABA therapy is data-driven and has clinically proven results spanning decades. In turn, this has led it to become the premier treatment for ASD today, and its applications have helped countless children and their families.
Applied Behavioral Analysis Principles
For children with autism, ABA can focus on life skills, reducing potentially dangerous behaviors, improving learning, and several other valuable applications. While ABA therapy has a backbone of data collection and analysis, it is also tailored to fit the specific needs of a child and their family. Some of the techniques used in ABA therapy include:
Discrete Trial Training (DTT)
Discrete Trial Training is a structured teaching format that breaks skills down into smaller components and relies on reinforcement to retrain them systematically. For example, a clinician might teach a child the alphabet by having them identify one letter at a time and reinforcing that before eventually having them put the letters together in a sequence.
Natural Environment Teaching (NET)
Natural environment teaching is used to show individuals with autism how to apply skills across multiple real-life situations. This is done by creating contrived situations within one environment and showing how they mimic common ones that a person will encounter frequently.
Some examples of settings that NET is used to prepare children for include home, school, playgrounds, and private practices. NET is one of the disciplines that parents can help their children with the most, as it can be a less formal learning process than in a clinic.
Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT)
Pivotal response treatment is a play-based therapy that helps children with communication skills and pro-social behavior. PRT builds on the patient’s interests and allows them to take the initiative while reinforcing focus and communication skills.
These three core principles are prevalent in ABA therapy that your child might encounter. There are many others, and the clinic and specialists that your child works with collaborate with you to map out the framework that will best suit your child and your family.
7 Tips for Parents of Children in ABA Therapy
Children with autism who are enrolled in ABA therapy require support from parents and educators alike.
As a parent, you can use these measures to make sure your child has the best chance of learning and growing across multiple environments:
- Create a Support System: It takes a village to raise a child, and ABA therapy for autism truly embodies that expression. Family members, friends, educators, and clinicians are all strong foundations of a support system for your child. Find out who you can trust for what support, and build environments your child feels comfortable in.
- Consistent Involvement: ABA therapy for autism works best with dedication and positivity from parents and family members. There are going to be difficult moments in ABA teaching and applying the principles across different environments. Even in these tougher times, continuing to nurture and support your child regularly is critical for their success.
- Observation: Keeping a watchful eye on your child is important for any parent, especially for one whose child is enrolled in ABA therapy. Seeing their unique response to behaviors and treatments will help you accelerate good outcomes and minimize detrimental ones.
- Help Track Behaviors: Data is the backbone of ABA therapy, and being a part of the collection and understanding of it can help your child immensely.
- Training: Using the same standards and explanations throughout all environments and behavioral frameworks will make life easier for you and your child. Make sure to consult with your ABA clinicians and therapists to determine the vocabulary, standards, and goals of any work you are doing at home.
- Alliance: Being well-connected with ABA clinicians, therapists, teachers, and caretakers will help create a unified front. Additionally, staying active in the autism community will allow you to find new ways to help your child succeed and give you opportunities to meet like-minded parents and advocates.
- Establish Goals and Celebrate Success: We naturally want to improve our child’s quality of life and set them up for lifelong success. ABA therapy for autism is no different. As you set goals for them, celebrate the achievements. It will reinforce behavioral milestones, reduce stress, and create an atmosphere of joy that will amplify the changes you are aiming for.
How to Start ABA Therapy for your Child
To enroll your child in ABA therapy, follow these steps:
- Get an assessment from your pediatrician or a medical provider.
- Research local autism clinics near you.
- Do an intake evaluation with an ABA clinician.
- Meet your potential providers and see the clinic.
- Enroll your child in ABA therapy.
There may be additional steps depending on your clinic, insurance qualifications, and home setup. Make sure to have thorough discussions with each medical provider and potential ABA clinician about the next step to take for enrolling your child in ABA Therapy.
Ally Pediatric Therapy is Arizona’s Leading ABA Clinic
At Ally Pediatric Therapy, our professionals are committed to helping families succeed by providing the leading autism therapy in Arizona. We help parents learn the basics of ABA therapy and how to integrate it into daily life for long-term growth and success.
If you’re looking to change your loved ones’ quality of life, getting started with ABA therapy is a great first step. Please reach out to us today so we can schedule a meeting and show you what a true alliance for change looks like.