ABA therapy is a therapeutic strategy that focuses on employing positive reinforcement to enhance behavioural, social, communication, and learning abilities. ABA treatment employs behavioural concepts to create objectives, reinforce behaviours, and assess achievements.
This method is frequently referred to as the “gold standard” in the treatment of autism. It is extensively used and has been found to improve certain abilities and decrease undesirable behaviours. It has also been seen as rude and, at times, demeaning, which makes it controversial.
ABA therapy is based on behaviourist ideas, including operant conditioning and the use of incentives and consequences to shape behaviour. Mental health experts began using ideas like token economics in the treatment of diseases like schizophrenia and developmental disabilities in the 1950s and 1960s.
Later, Ivar Lovaas, PhD, modified ABA to treat autism. His theory was that some habits and social skills could be taught, while others might be eliminated via the use of rewards and punishments. 1
Since then, a plethora of strategies for treating autism and other diseases have arisen. Many modern techniques are still based on the basics of ABA therapy, but they now also involve emotional and social interaction.
ABA Therapy Types:
Many sorts of interventions can be employed as part of ABA treatment.
Training for Discrete Trials (DTT)
Discrete trial training (DTT) is the process of breaking down a skill and teaching it step-by-step. This procedure is made up of three parts:
- The preceding (a cue that triggers the behaviour)
- The conduct (the response to the cue)
- The final word (what happens after the response)
When the behaviour is effectively created, the individual receives positive reinforcement. However, if the intended reaction is not successfully produced, the individual is not rewarded.
Intensive Early Behavioral Intervention (EIBI)
This method may be used to teach social, adaptive, communicative, and functional skills to young children. It is generally extremely personal, intense, and all-encompassing.
The Denver Early Start Model (ESDM)
This therapy is based on applied behaviour analysis and is frequently used for children with autism aged 12 to 48 months. It uses play activities to help kids improve their cognitive, social, and language skills.
Training in the Natural Environment
After acquiring abilities through discrete trial training, people continue learning and applying such skills in more realistic settings. A youngster, for example, may acquire skill and then begin practising it at home or at school.
ABA treatment is frequently offered in two ways. It may be used as a complete programme for intense intervention in a variety of settings and situations. It can also be part of a more focused programme that only deals with certain habits or situations.
ABA Therapy in its entirety
This method provides treatments that often take several hours each day. A therapist or behaviour technician works with the individual for at least many hours per week, and typically in several locations, such as at home and at school. Therapists engage with individuals directly, but they may also work with parents and caregivers to teach skills that may be used outside of ABA treatment sessions.
ABA Therapy with a Focus
This sort of treatment may concentrate on assisting an individual in a specific scenario in which they are experiencing trouble. It may also concentrate on certain talents that an individual wants to improve. Individuals frequently work one-on-one with therapists, but they may also practise these skills in small groups or in the community.
ABA treatment generally consists of many phases. Treatment programmes are customised to the individual’s needs. 3
- The first stage in ABA therapy is assessment. During this stage, the kid or individual will meet with a therapist, who will ask questions about the child’s or individual’s skills, weaknesses, needs, and objectives. The specialist will create a treatment plan based on this information.
- Treatment will entail a variety of strategies aimed at achieving the individual’s objectives. Treatment sessions can last as little as an hour, but they usually take several hours.
- Caregiver training provides support and education to parents, as well as other carers and family members. Therapists educate parents and family members on skills and methods to help them sustain desired behaviours at home, school, and in the community.
What Can ABA Therapy Help With?
ABA Therapy may be used to treat a wide range of illnesses, including:
- Anxiety problems
- ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) (ADHD)
- Autism spectrum disorders (ASD)2
- Personality disorder with borderline characteristics (BPD)
- Disorders of development
- Obsessive-compulsive syndrome (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (PTSD)
- Sleep issues4
- Substance abuse problems
The Advantages of ABA Therapy
Although ABA treatment does not “cure” autism, it can be used to teach desirable behaviours while reducing or eliminating undesirable ones. For example, with autism, ABA may be used to minimise tantrums, educate a kid to sit quietly, or teach a youngster to make requests using language. It may also be used to reward a kid for basic and difficult tasks, such as successfully cleaning their teeth or sharing a toy with a buddy.
ABA therapy can have the following effects on a person’s life:
- Developing and using social skills
- Reducing bad behaviour
- Memory and cognitive abilities are being developed.
- Increasing emotional ties with others
- Language and communication skills development
- Increasing focus and attentiveness
- Learning basic life skills
- Managing Aggressive and Anxious Feelings
ABA therapy has become a popular treatment technique for autism and other diseases. It has been connected to gains in critical areas like language, social skills, and adaptive abilities.
- Long-term comprehensive ABA treatment, according to one study, can help autistic children improve their daily living skills, language development, social ability, and intellectual functioning.
- A 2011 meta-analysis of 27 studies revealed that ABA therapies improved social skills, adaptive behaviours, linguistic abilities, and cognitive capacities. These therapies also helped children and adolescents reduce anger and anxiety. 6
- According to a 2012 study, children with autism spectrum conditions should get at least 25 hours per week of full ABA therapy, which has been associated with gains in play skills, behaviour, language, and social communication.
It has to be seen how those findings translate into long-term advantages throughout life. It’s also worth noting that ABA treatment does not cure autism but rather tries to attain particular results, such as the change of certain autism-related behaviours.
Things to Think About
Because ABA is not the only treatment option, it is critical to listen to and observe how a person responds in order to identify which treatment is best for them.
The ABA, while commonly employed today, is not without criticism. Previously, this sort of treatment required hours of treatment each day, frequently in confining surroundings. Failure to create desired behaviours was frequently met with harsh sanctions that were both insulting to individuals in treatment and often demeaning.
Recent techniques, which do not entail penalties, rely on either applying or withholding rewards. Rather than sitting at a desk for hours on end conducting isolated trials, therapy is now frequently given in natural settings such as the home, school, and community.
ABA treatment is frequently used to encourage people to engage in “normal” activities. Neurodiversity is now more widely recognised and valued.
Rather than forcing people to fit a mould, emerging approaches focus on assisting people in developing and strengthening abilities that will allow them to attain their full potential and live satisfying life.
What to Do First
If you’re ready to give ABA therapy a try for yourself or your kid, there are several steps you can take to locate the right treatment for your requirements.
- Obtain a recommendation. Request a referral to an ABA provider from your doctor or your child’s physician. You may also look for local service providers online.
- Check with your insurance company. Most insurance plans cover ABA therapy, so check with your policy provider and your therapist to make sure they accept your insurance.
- Find the best therapist for you. To begin with, ensure that your therapist is a board-certified behavioural analyst (BCBA). Early ABA sessions often focus on building a relationship with the therapist, so think about if it seems like a good fit.
As with other sorts of therapy, it might be beneficial to give it a go and monitor how things progress. If you find positive results over time, it may be a smart decision to persist with it in the long run. If you or your kid is having difficulty with treatment or is not making excellent progress over time, it may be time to try an alternative treatment technique.
Frequently Asked Questions
What exactly do they do in the ABA?
Rather than limiting innocuous self-stimulatory behaviour, ABA concentrates on teaching basic skills and halting hazardous behaviours (stims). Therapists work with autistic people to help them develop skills such as communication and language. Social abilities
What exactly does “ABA” stand for?
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a therapy based on learning and behaviour research.
What are the four forms of ABA behaviour?
Sensory stimulation, escape, access to attention, and access to tangibles are the four purposes of behaviour. Megan Graves, a BCBA, outlines the four roles with an explanation and an example for each.
Can ABA help treat autism?
There is no cure for autism, but experts believe that ABA therapy is the best method to control symptoms and improve independence skills. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complicated illness that shows up in different ways in different people.