August 19, 2020

Autism Spectrum Disorder and ABA Therapy: It’s All About Family

Why your involvement matters

If you have a child on the autism spectrum, it is likely he or she may need Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Therapy. The primary purpose of this therapy is to benefit children. However, it can also help parents, family members, and caregivers understand how to handle challenges along the way.

We discuss ABA Therapy in general and how families can be involved in helping children overcome obstacles.

Understanding autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and behavioral issues

ASD affects developmental condition that impacts how someone perceives and socializes with others. It can affect communication and how your child relates socially to other people.

The term “Spectrum” refers to a range of symptoms and severity. Some children may have relatively mild symptoms or severity, while others display more extreme symptoms.

Signs of ASD

Remember that children with ASD can display a range of symptoms or signs. You may notice them by the time your child is 8-10 months old.

  • Fails to respond to his/her name by the first birthday
  • Shows disinterest in playing, sharing, or talking with others
  • Prefers to be alone
  • Avoids physical contact
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Doesn’t like to be comforted when upset
  • Doesn’t seem to understand emotions (even their own)

There may also be signs related to communication milestones that most children display, including:

  • Delayed speech and language skills
  • Flat, robotic speech patterns
  • Repeating phrases (echolalia)
  • Problems with pronouns (says “you” instead of “I”)
  • Doesn’t use common gestures like waving and pointing
  • Has trouble staying on topic in conversations or answering questions
  • Failing to recognize joking or sarcasm

Some children may display certain behaviors such as repetitive motions, constant movement, fixating on objects, sensitivity to touch, lights, or sounds, lack of coordination, aggressive behavior, or impulsiveness.

An evaluation by a professional is necessary to diagnose ASD. If you have received a diagnosis, it’s important to begin therapy right away.

Children on the autism spectrum often struggle to deal with their own emotions. Certain environments and situations can trigger anxiety, stress, or even angry or aggressive outbursts. The older your child gets, the harder it may be to handle these situations. A teenager who has aggressive tendencies could be a problem for you and others, including siblings, teachers, grandparents, and other students.

What is ABA Therapy?

ABA Therapy is a therapeutic intervention for children diagnosed with ASD. The goal of this type of therapy is to help children develop better social interactions, master new skills, and encourage positive behaviors. It can also help control emotional responses in situations that might trigger negative behavior.

There are seven goals of ABA Therapy:

  1. Identify the behaviors you want to change
  2. Set goals and outcomes
  3. Determine how to measure progress and improvements
  4. Evaluate where your child is at the outset of therapy
  5. Help your child learn new skills and coping mechanisms to avoid negative behaviors
  6. Review your child’s progress over time
  7. Determine if further therapy is necessary

The concept behind ABA Therapy is that behaviors are learned, and therefore, they can be modified and changed over time. After evaluating your child, the therapists will develop a plan with the goal of improving communication and behavioral skills. Parents, family members, other caregivers, and teachers also receive training so that they can follow the same concepts at home or school.

Changing negative habits

It’s important to understand that negative behavior happens for a reason, and the environment can play a part in that. The environment and certain situations may trigger adverse reactions. ABA Therapy helps uncover the reasons behind the behavior. You can begin to understand what that behavior pattern looks like, and why it happens. Eventually, you can change the environment to decrease incidents of negative behavior.

Why parental involvement matters

Of course we are concerned with educating and helping children. However, parents are an integral part of ABA Therapy, too.

You will learn:

  • How to identify your child’s triggers
  • Understand how environmental situations can lead to negative behavior
  • More about behavioral concepts
  • Strategies to minimize negative behavior and maximize success
  • Improve your child’s communication and coping skills

ABA sessions are customized to meet the needs of your family by our Board Certified Behavioral Analysts (BCBAs). We implement on-site and off-site behavioral interventions.

Our comprehensive programs are family-centered and can focus on:

  • Targeting imitation
  • Pre-academic preparedness
  • Improving social interactions
  • Improving communication skills
  • Developing self-help skills

The ultimate goal is to help your child feel comfortable in their community, whether it’s at home, school, or other social situations. We want them to learn proper social and life skills and ultimately give your child the ability to control his/her own emotions and behavior.

Community integration

Another important part of our ABA Therapy program is called Community Integration. These so-called “family adventures” are designed to help your child (and your family) reduce the stress and anxiety associate with outings.

You know that often a simple trip to the grocery store can result in a behavioral meltdown. Therapeutic outings take place during your ABA sessions so that your child can learn how to be more successful in the community. It will also teach you and others how to respond during these situations.

Outings may include trips to:

  • Grocery store
  • Restaurants
  • The park
  • Birthday parties
  • Larger community events

Begin your child’s journey toward improved behavior with ABA Therapy

Your child’s behavior can impact their life in numerous ways, both at school and with family members and friends. If your child has received an ASD diagnosis, ABA Therapy can help him or her learn positive behavior while teaching you how to reinforce those lessons at home.

We also provide other comprehensive therapies so children with a wide range of physical, emotional, and developmental conditions can achieve traditional milestones.

Our services include:

  • Speech therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Developmental therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • ABA therapy
  • Social work
  • Augmentative alternative communication
  • Early intervention
  • Teletherapy

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.

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