Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy is an evidence-based, best practice treatment accredited by the US Surgeon General and the American Psychological Association. ABA is a therapeutic approach that focuses on modifying socially significant behaviors. Through the systematic use of the principles of behavior, functional and adaptive skills are increased, while maladaptive or undesirable behaviors are decreased. Research has shown that ABA therapy is an effective treatment for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, as well as other co-morbid developmental disorders. As each human being is unique in his/her own way, ABA therapy is modified by the concerned team to meet the needs of each child, leading to constructive changes over a period of time.
Over the years, extensive surveys have shown ABA to be effective in minimizing problem behaviors which manifests themselves in people with ASD, such as self-harm, tantrums, non-compliance, and so on. This research is demonstrated by a study conducted by Dr. Ivar Lovaas (in the year 1987), which has validated the effectiveness of ABA.
Positive reinforcement is the main pillar of ABA. It is used to teach new skills and increase the frequency of some functional skills that the child is already familiar with. Another pillar of ABA therapy is the analysis and understanding of what happens before a behavior occurs and the impact of that behavior. ABA therapy can be imparted in centers or in homes, where the child is most at ease and show the biggest gains. ABA has been effective in teaching deficient skills such as communication, social, self – help skills, and responding to others.
Let’s see, in brief, how ABA is effective for those on the spectrum:
Communication – ABA therapy empowers people with ASD to request for needs and wants. This is a considerable improvement as early and basic communication was an issue. This makes the life of the family, caregivers, and the social network at large a tad easier on the whole.
Play – One of the ways ABA helps these unique kids is to play functionally with toys and explore new toys that they may not have had the skill to do earlier. ABA opens up a whole new world for these children and their families.
Social skills – ABA has proved to help children engage in interactive play, share toys, etc. Most people with ASD prefer being alone and live in a world of their own with limited social skills and engagement. Getting them to engage in small social interactions is a big help to the families and to them. This opens doors for letting more people into their lives and broadening their social circle.
Self-care skills – One of the biggest worries for families of individuals with ASD is teaching them the activities of daily living: the day-to-day tasks which we may take for granted. For example, using the bathroom, brushing our teeth, or taking a shower. These basic life skills can pose challenges for such families when a child is unable to independently complete them. With ABA, one can be assured that the kids have some semblance of normalcy in their day-to-day activities.