Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurological disorder that can be complicated to diagnose and treat, especially without professional help. It affects about 1 in every 68 children, according to a recent report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is among the widely preferred treatments for autism. With an over 89% percent success rate, the treatment can be considered a go-to plan for autistic pediatric therapy. Let’s explore more about it.
What is ABA Therapy?
ABA therapy for Autism Treatment teaches skills through positive reinforcement, which can make learning fun and enjoyable. It uses the principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA) to help children learn new skills in social interaction, communication, academics, and other areas of development.
How Does The Treatment Work?
The treatment works in several ways. They include:
This is a technique in which therapists deliberately arrange the environment and provide verbal and nonverbal prompts to help children learn new skills, such as asking them to look at the therapist’s face when she’s speaking.
The technique uses positive reinforcement such as praise, play activities, favorite toys, or food treats. It is designed to increase the child’s likelihood of repeating desirable behaviors.
This technique involves setting up a routine and systematically teaching children how to follow it on their own. For example, an autistic child may become aggressive after an activity.
The therapist could develop strategies for recognizing the signs of an impending outburst and use calming techniques to avert tantrums.
This is a process that builds new skills through gradual steps. Shaping involves rewarding increasingly complex behavior until the child learns to behave successfully at the target level.
For example, if a child claps his hands when asked to give a high-five, he might be shaped to gradually build up the complexity of his hand movements.
This process will continue until he’s able to reciprocate a high-five with alternating hands.
What’s Involved In Treatment?
There are several steps in treatment: They include:
This is a first step in identifying whether or not a child has ASD. It involves gathering information on the child’s risk factors, behaviors associated with autism, and developmental level to determine if she’s eligible for further testing and diagnosis.
This stage involves identifying signs of ASD and determining what treatment techniques should be used on the child. The assessment process includes reviewing the child’s medical history, family history, current symptoms, and skill set.
This information will help therapists determine if an ASD diagnosis is warrented. If there are no signs of autism, a therapist will evaluate other developmental issues that may be present and what treatments would best address those difficulties.
Goal-Setting and Data Collection
After the assessment report is completed, therapists will work with parents to set up achievable goals for the child. These goals are crucial to help the therapists track progress during treatment sessions.
Throughout treatment, therapists will track progress by collecting data from sessions and putting it into a Treatment Plan. Data includes information on child improvement or regression during the therapeutic process.
The measurement tools used include checklists, worksheets, questionnaires, visual diagrams, and more. Parents should expect to spend time reviewing all their child’s data with the therapy team to decide the next plausible steps.
Outcome Measurement and Evaluation
Once treatment goals have been met, therapists will work with parents to determine if the child has progressed enough to discontinue therapy sessions. Therapists will administer a post-treatment evaluation process to test for knowledge retention and ongoing progress in skills.
This information is vital to help therapists decide if the child has met the therapy goals. It will also help the expert determine if the child will transfer the learned skills into the home or school settings.
How Long Does Treatment Last?
The length of treatment typically varies depending on these factors:
The child’s diagnosis and symptoms
The stronger a child’s skills are, the less intensive their ABA therapy for Autism Treatment. For example, a child with mild symptoms might only need 2-3 hours per week.
On the other hand, those with severe autism may require 40 or more hours of treatment each week.
The child’s skill level
A child starting from scratch will need more time to learn new skills than a child with prior experience with basic tasks. Also, a child who already understands an activity or task will require less assistance and instruction than an unfamiliar child with the task.
Family commitment and resources
ABA therapy for autism treatment is a significant investment of time and resources. Families should be prepared to commit to their child’s success by attending every appointment and participating in at-home sessions frequently.
The treatment could also take longer for a child with a single parent to help with therapy. The situation is favorable for a child with an entire team of therapists and support system leading to a quicker treatment process.
The child’s response to treatment
The degree of success achieved in the early stages of treatment will determine whether or not your child will continue with therapy sessions. Children with slow response times may require more therapy sessions. This leads to a longer treatment process.
Completion of previous goals
Clinicians usually set a limited number of achievable goals for the child to achieve. Once they have been met, services will be cut back until new plans are reached and gradually increased as treatment progresses and gains momentum.
What Are The Benefits of ABA Therapy for Autism Treatment?
Below are the key benefits of ABA therapy in treating autism.
Parents and educators report that children engaged in ABA therapy for Autism Treatment are more attentive and better able to focus on specific tasks. This is because these individuals learn how to regulate their own behavior, which helps them stay focused.
Better Self-Help Skills
Children engaged in ABA therapy also tend to be more independent in completing daily living tasks. They are often trained in skills that will help them perform basic needs, such as dressing and brushing their teeth.
Children with autism typically engage in repetitive movements or actions when they are happy or upset. ABA helps reduce the number of these actions by teaching children to display emotions through words or gestures.
This makes it easier for them to express their feelings in socially appropriate ways. This opens up more opportunities for happiness and emotional growth.
ABA also encourages parents and educators to communicate with the child using verbal prompts, gestures, and play. This helps improve the child’s communication skills inside and outside of therapy sessions.
Fewer Medical Issues
Children with autism often suffer from digestive upset or seizures caused by gastrointestinal problems, food sensitivities, or metabolic disorders.
ABA eases the parent’s or caregiver’s burden in finding suitable food options and avoiding trigger foods. This leads to fewer medical problems for the child as they grow up.
Taming Regressive Behaviors
Children with autism may experience regression. This means that their condition worsens when they reach a particular stage of development, such as learning how to speak or crawl. ABA helps slow down the regression process and lessen its severity.
ABA also encourages parents and educators to experiment with different forms of memory training. This includes picture cues or songs that help kids remember certain routines or behaviors.
These activities help improve a child’s short-term memory and long-term recalling skills. This also leads to better learning and problem-solving skills.
What Are the Common Challenges in Treating Autism?
Lack of knowledge
Therapists may not have sufficient information on ASD to treat the child. For example, the therapist may not have enough knowledge of the disorder or its effects on behavior and development.
Lack of knowledge also causes therapists to miss the chance to treat other conditions that may arise during treatment.
Lack of consistency and flexibility
Therapists act as role models for children. If they are unapproachable or strict, the child may find it hard to work with them. Therapists should engage the child’s attention while offering sufficient motivation for them to continue therapy sessions.
Therapists also need to be flexible during sessions. This includes allowing children room to try out new skills while teaching them. This will help a child cope with anxiety or other emotional issues that may arise during treatment.
Lack of community awareness
Lack of community awareness means there may not be enough resources available for children with ASD. Therapists and parents may face problems getting the proper education, equipment, or access to healthcare treatment.
Lack of professional therapists
A portion of parents may have to wait for years before finding a professional ASD therapist. This leaves the child without essential treatment that could help him cope with his disorder. In such cases, parents should try other ASD treatment options until they find an expert.
If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.
About the Author: Kendrick Sonnemann is a recent college graduate of Texas A&M University who has developed a passion for writing and bringing his ideas to life. As a freelance writer in the Dallas, TX area, he has written countless articles to help promote his personal writing brand.
When looking for a partner in ABA therapy for autism treatment, Accel Therapies got you covered. We pride ourselves in offering high-quality therapies and treatment programs for autistic children within Texas, Idaho, and California regions. We have a team of professionals who are dedicated to accelerating an autistic child’s potential. Get in touch with us and schedule a free consultation. Visit our website for more information about our services.
Photo by Gabe Pierce on Unsplash
The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.
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