For parents who have children with autism, finding the right treatment can be overwhelming, especially since the most effective time to start is as soon as possible.
Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy has become the gold standard of autism treatment, but it has its fair share of critics claiming it’s harmful.
We’re here to answer your concerns about ABA therapy.
- Is ABA therapy Harmful?
- Why is ABA therapy so controversial?
- What is ABA therapy for autism?
- How does ABA therapy work?
- What are ABA services?
- What if ABA therapy doesn’t work?
- Does my child need ABA therapy?
Is ABA Therapy Harmful?
To put it shortly, no–ABA therapy is not harmful. It is a safe, evidence-based, and highly effective treatment for people with autism. However, it is worth noting that any treatment or therapy that is not correctly applied to a child or implemented by a poor clinician can cause harm.
This makes it imperative to find the best ABA therapist near you by learning how the treatments work, talking with the proper staff about how to best suit your family’s needs, and following the prescribed framework for your child.
One of the best parts about ABA therapy is that it is backed by science and supplemented by unique data and tracking for your child and their specific case. This leaves no doubt that ABA therapy works and is not harmful when applied correctly.
Why is ABA Therapy so Controversial?
Like all good science, autism treatment and ABA therapy change to get the best results over time. In its earliest versions, ABA therapy was criticized for using a great deal of negative reinforcement in conjunction with positive reinforcement to encourage a wide range of behavioral changes.
Over time, negative reinforcements and punishments have fallen out of favor in ABA therapy for autism. Instead, systematic teaching and positive reinforcement are used more frequently to encourage positive repetitions. With this change and an influx of good data surrounding ABA therapy, it is now considered the most effective treatment for children with autism.
What is ABA Therapy for Autism?
ABA therapy for autism is an evidence-based treatment that applies an understanding of how human behaviors work in real-life situations to improve them. These are then applied uniquely to patients to create a framework that works on their skills to help them maximize their potential. Each patient will work on behaviors that will occur most often in the environments they are in regularly, such as home, school, and common social settings.
Is ABA Therapy Effective For Autism?
Yes, ABA therapy is considered the modern gold standard for autism and has a very high success rate in treating ASD relative to older treatments. ABA therapy for autism has been studied extensively over multiple decades to show that it helps hone skills and improve behaviors for both children and adults.
Another valuable component of ABA therapy is that it incorporates parents, teachers, family members, and other close contacts to create a support group that can work within the framework to help a child with autism. This methodology helps to bolster the scientifically distilled programming prescribed.
What Does ABA Do for Autism?
ABA therapy has well-documented benefits for those with autism. The strategies used have improved and adapted over the years to become increasingly effective, allowing for better overall development for individuals with autism:
- Language and Communication Skills
- Social Abilities
- Learning Across Multiple Environments
- Adapting Unique Problem Behaviors
- Increasing Attention, Memory, and Academic Skills
- Daily Life Skills: Self-Care, Hygiene, etc.
- Motor Skills
Is ABA Therapy Only for Autism?
Applied Behavioral Analysis goes well beyond the realm of autism. ABA can treat a large range of cognitive disorders, behavioral problems, and even injuries or diseases. While it is becoming more and more prevalent in treating people with autism, the principles can apply to children and adults who want to overcome ongoing behavioral and developmental challenges.
How Does ABA Therapy Work?
ABA therapy analyzes the environment and arranges contingencies for the ultimate success of the individual. Additionally, licensed professionals assess every behavior and its associated goals and outcomes using data as evidence to indicate successes or modify treatment plans.
ABA uses the ABC data as one data collection method for assessing the function or reasons for a particular behavior:
- Antecedent: the events or circumstances that immediately precede a behavior
- Behavior: the behavior in question
- Consequences: the response directly following the behavior
This evidence-based method allows clinicians, parents, and family members to tangibly track reasons for a particular behavior to develop a plan of action and ensure, ensuring that any decisions or interpretations made regarding a treatment plan are as informed and objective as possible.
Why is ABA Important for Autism?
ABA therapy is important for autism because it is the most effective method of treating problematic behaviors today. Additionally, ABA has a proven track record of improving its strategies to fit modern behavioral science standards and allows individuals with autism the utmost quality of life.
When ABA Therapy Doesn’t Work
There is no therapy or treatment for autism that is guaranteed to work. However, it has been clinically shown that positively reinforcing healthy behaviors will work far more often than not.
If you’re observing a lack of progress:
- Request a review of the treatment plan and progress.
- Outline the most important goals to focus on with your clinician.
- Ensure your clinician understands your unique family values and cultural considerations.
- Observe sessions and request to actively participate.
- Discuss caregiver collaboration and goals you are able to work on outside of therapy.
- Ask your clinician about the long-term plan to accomplish the transition to less intensive services and discharge.
Improving interactions with the environment of long-term behavioral issues will be an incremental process no matter what form of treatment is applied. ABA therapy has consistently proven to be the modern gold standard for autism treatment; however, it requires patience.
When to Stop ABA Therapy?
You and your family will typically be the best judges of how ABA therapy or any other treatment is working at home, school, and throughout daily life. If your child does not see improvement, you should have a candid conversation with your ABA clinic and therapists to see if there are possible changes for more positive outcomes. If your child is not responding well to ABA therapy and adjustments are not working, it is reasonable to stop ABA therapy.
What are ABA Services?
ABA services are provided by specialized clinics that work to include a fully integrated ABA framework for your family and child with autism.
These services include:
- ABA Therapy
- Parental Support and Treatment Guidance
- Individual Education Program (IEP) Assistance
- Unique Treatment Plans for In-Clinic, At-Home, and Other Environments
- In-House Speech-Language Pathologists or Referrals within Network
- Collaborative Approach with Other Licensed Professionals
ABA clinics for people with autism aim to create the best treatment programs and support networks to empower their patients. Ultimately, a great ABA clinic strives to find the exact dynamic plan that enables growth for the individual as well as their family.
How Much Does ABA Therapy Cost?
ABA therapy will vary in cost based on your location, the needs of your child, and the clinic you work with. Most insurance companies cover autism treatment, but this may vary state-to-state. Always check with your insurance provider and prospective ABA clinic before enrolling under the assumption that treatment is fully covered.
Does My Child Need ABA Therapy?
We always recommend you consult with your family pediatrician, a psychologist, or any specialists you are currently working with if you are considering ABA therapy for your child.
Ally Pediatric Therapy is Arizona’s Leading ABA Clinic
At Ally Pediatric Therapy, we know how challenging it can be for children with autism and their families to confront ongoing behavioral issues. That’s why we’ve spent years creating a team of experts who specialize in providing unique ABA solutions that can allow people with autism to maximize their potential.
If you’re looking to learn more about ABA therapy, please reach out to us to start a conversation today!