Supporting your child with ABA Therapy
If your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or struggles with developmental issues that affect how they respond to situations, ABA Therapy can help them learn to cope and master new skills. This family-centered therapy is designed to help children become more independent and achieve milestones.
We explain ABA therapy, its goals, and the five components therapy entails.
What is ABA Therapy?
ABA stands for Applied Behavioral Analysis. The primary purpose of ABA treatment is to give children and their families/caregivers the tools they need to make socially significant changes to behavior and improve overall quality of life. Children with ASD often experience stress and anxiety in response to certain environmental triggers. This stress can lead to challenging behavior that may be difficult to control.
ABA Therapy is designed to help children improve his or her various functional skills, including social skills, communication, daily living, play skills, and self-regulation. This helps them handle social interactions more effectively, control their emotional responses, communicate their wants and needs and develop positive behaviors.
There are seven important steps that most ABA programs will follow:
- Identify the behaviors you want to change and the skills you want your child to master
- Set goals and outcomes
- Determine how to measure progress
- Evaluate the child’s existing skill set at the outset of therapy
- Develop and follow a treatment plan to help your child learn new skills and gain more independence
- Review your child’s progress over time and adjust the treatment plan as needed
- Determine if further therapy is necessary or if it is time to fade services
ABA Therapy is personalized and designed to meet the needs of each individual child. Every child learns differently and ABA Therapy takes these differences into account.
Family involvement in ABA therapy
It’s not just the child who benefits from ABA Therapy. Parents, family members, and caregivers are encouraged to take part. Your child’s BCBA will teach you basic ABA principles and strategies so that these new skills and behaviors carry over to home and other environments.
Generalizing new skills across environments (home, school, community, etc.) is another important aspect of ABA and this can be achieved in many ways. One way is by practicing those skills in the community! These “community outings” can help reduce the stress and anxiety associated with public settings. Parents can join in these outings to learn how to recognize triggers and act proactively to help their child navigate these situations.
Outings may include trips to:
- Grocery stores
- Birthday parties
- Community events
Now that you have a better understanding of ABA, let’s discuss five common components of ABA sessions.
1. Task analysis
To create a Task Analysis, ABA therapists break down complex activities into a series of small steps. Then, they teach those steps until the child can complete the task without assistance. Positive reinforcement is used to increase the likelihood that your child will continue to use these new skills in the future.
Most of us don’t think about the steps involved in completing even seemingly simple tasks like washing hands, brushing teeth and throwing a ball. However, all these tasks require a series of smaller steps. We easily learn these steps as children and soon master them. However, children with certain developmental disorders like Autism may struggle to learn and follow these steps using traditional teaching methods.
Chaining is a method used to teach your child the steps in a task analysis. Several forms of chaining exist and your BCBA will determine which method of chaining is best for your child given his or her individual differences. The goal is always to teach the child to complete the entire chain as independently as possible.
ABA therapists may use different types of prompts to help teach your child new skills. The type of prompt, or cue, used will be determined by how your child learns best. Sometimes prompts are used to avoid missteps. This method can help prevent negative behaviors related to “failures” and increase self-esteem by demonstrating that tasks can be successfully completed.
4. Prompt Fading
While prompts can help your child learn and master new skills, they must be removed gradually as he or she moves toward independence. This is usually done slowly and continues until your child can perform new skills on his or her own.
Shaping is similar to chaining, but not quite the same! Shaping reinforces attempts to complete a skill until the child can perform the action or skill independently. Shaping is better explained through an example. Imagine a boy is learning how to say, “Apple!” He may start out by making only the, “Ah,” sound. At first, saying “Ah” will be reinforced with praise or some other reward. Once he consistently that sound, his therapist will prompt him to say “App” to receive the reward. This process continues until he is able to say the full word, “Apple!”
ABA Therapy can help everyone
Your child’s behavior can impact his or her life in numerous ways, including at school, in the community, and at home with family and friends. ABA Therapy can help children with Autism learn a variety of skills while also providing training and support for parents.
We also provide other comprehensive therapies so children with a wide range of physical, emotional, and developmental conditions can achieve traditional milestones.
- Speech therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Developmental therapy
- Physical therapy
- Social work
- Augmentative alternative communication
- Early intervention
Lumiere Children’s Therapy is a full-service, multidisciplinary pediatric therapy practice located in Chicago that serves the developmental needs of children from birth to 18 years of age. Learn more about how our team of clinicians works to improve the lives of children and their families.