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How Does Applied Behavior Analysis Benefit People with Autism

ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) is a method of therapy based the science of learning and behavior. Analyzing behaviors gives the ability for one to understand:

  • How behavior is affected by the environment

  • How behavior works

  • How learning happens

Applied Behavior Analysis provides insight and understanding of behavior, how to shape future behavior, and how it will work in a real situation. The goal of the analysis is to increase positive, helpful behaviors and decrease the negative, harmful ones that affect a person with autism to learn new things.

How Applied Behavior Analysis Programs Help

The methods of ABA have been in use and studied for decades. These programs help many types of learners achieve different skills. These new skills will improve and make their life healthier. ABA therapists have used these programs to help children with developmental disorders, including autism since 1960.

How the ABA Therapy Works

ABA uses a variety of techniques for understanding and changing behavior. The therapy is flexible treatment and:

  • Can be adapted to meet the needs of each individual

  • Can be provided in a variety of locations, such as at school, at home, as well as in the community

  • Can teach new skills that can be applied in useful everyday life

  • Can involve a one-on-one teaching or group instruction

ABA Therapy Reinforces Positive Behaviors

One of the main strategies used in ABA is positive reinforcement. If a behavior is followed by something positive, such as a reward or something they value, it is more likely the learner will repeat the behavior. When this method is used over time, it encourages positive behaviors.

To begin this strategy, the therapist will identify a target behavior and create a goal. Every time the person uses the 'goal' behavior or skill successfully, they are given a reward. The reward has to mean something to the individual, such as a book, toy, access to the playground, watching a video, or something as simple as praise.

Using positive rewards encourages an individual to continue using the new behavior or goal. Over time this will lead to a meaningful change in behavior.

The ABCs of the ABA Program

The ABCs of the ABA program are antecedents, behavior, consequences. Understanding what the antecedent is, or in other words, what happened before a behavior occurred, and the consequences, or what happens after the behavior, is a significant part of the program.

These are the three steps or the ABCs of the program that helps teach and understand behaviors:

  • An antecedent is what happens or what event occurred right before a target behavior was displayed. The antecedent can be a request, command, or something physical, such as light, sound, or something else in the individual's environment. The antecedent can come from another person, the environment, or can even be something internal such as a feeling or thought.

  • The behavior that results is the individual's response or their lack of response to the antecedent. The behavior can be a verbal response, an action, or something else.

  • A consequence is what will happen right after the behavior. The consequence can be positive reinforcement, the desired behavior, or no reaction or inappropriate response.

The ABCs help you, or your child's therapist understand:

  • Why a specific behavior happened

  • How a different consequence could affect if the behavior will happen again

What Does an ABA Program Involve?

A trained board certified or licensed behavior analyst designs and oversees a program for an individual. The program will be customized to meet each learner's needs, interests, skills, family situation, and preferences.

The behavior analyst will perform a detailed assessment of the person's preferences and skills. This information will help them create a treatment goal. The family is also considered and inputs their desired goals and preferences to include in the program. Some of the goals can include:

  • Maladaptive Behavior management

  • Social skills

  • Self-care, such as being able to toilet and shower independently

  • Leisure and play

  • Motor skills

  • Language and communication skills

  • Academic and learning skills

Where to Learn More About Applied Behavior Analysis

ABA Pathways can help your child and your family clear a path toward a brighter future. Our team of specialists is committed to helping your family and will help work with you to develop an optimal treatment program to meet your child's needs. Contact us today and learn how we can provide your child with a holistic comprehensive program to foster their growth, appropriate social behavior, and communication.

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