Applied behavioral therapy (ABA) improves communication, social, and learning skills through different reinforcement strategies. It is the standard gold treatment for children with autism and other developmental disorders. However, experts also use it to treat conditions like cognitive impairment after a brain injury, borderline personality disorder, eating disorder, dementia, and anxiety-related conditions like OCD.
How does ABA work?
ABA therapy Los Angeles is an approach usually tailored to a child’s unique needs and involves several phases. Let’s look at them.
Consultation and examination
The first step for applied behavioral therapy is consulting an ABA therapist. The consultation is known as functional behavior assessment, whereby the therapist examines your child’s behavior. They will ask you about your child’s abilities, weaknesses, or things they find challenging.
The therapist also spends more time interacting with your child to observe their behavior and assess their communication level and skills. A good therapist will also visit your child in school or home to observe their behavior during typical activities.
After the assessment, a therapist should suggest specific interventions that align with your child’s needs, and they might also ask you to integrate particular strategies into your home life.
Developing a treatment plan
Depending on the observations from the initial assessment, a therapist will create a formal plan for therapy. ABA should be tailored to your child’s specific needs and involve concrete treatment goals. For instance, reducing the child’s problematic and self-harmful behavior like throwing tantrums and self-injury. The treatment may also focus on improving communication and other skills.
Your child’s age and challenges may also determine the specific ABA used. Some of the common interventions include:
- Early intensive behavioral intervention: often recommended for kids under five years, it involves an individualized, intensive curriculum for teaching communication, social interaction, and functional skills.
- Pivotal response training: this approach lets the child take the lead in a learning activity, although the therapist offers some choices based on their needs.
- Discrete trial learning: this approach teaches the child skills through completion and rewards.
- Early start Denver model: this one involves play-based activities that integrate multiple goals at a go.
- Verbal behavior interventions: it helps the child gain verbal and communication skills.
A therapist may also suggest strategies that involve teachers and caregivers to make it easier to achieve the treatment goals. They will teach you and the teachers about the techniques you can incorporate into the child’s life to reinforce their work in therapy. They also teach you how to safely avoid less effective reinforcements, like giving in to tantrums.
The goal of ABA is to unveil the causes of some behaviors to help your child improve over time. A therapist may adapt the approach throughout the treatment depending on how your child responds to the treatment. Frequent evaluation is necessary for monitoring the progress and analyzing strategies and where your child may benefit from different approaches.
The bottom line
ABA has proven effective in helping autistic children learn developmental skills and reduce harmful behavior. However, consultation is necessary since it may not be the best choice for all problematic kids.