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What is Autism and How Does ABA Help?

October 2020

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be overwhelming for parents and family members, as it classifies a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. Autism may pose extra challenges for your child throughout their lifetime. Misunderstandings and myths about Autism can lead to anxiety around what to expect. Good news! There is help and support to navigate this new world, and obtain the best outcomes for your child!

The lack of understanding of Autism means the child could be missing out on necessary help through programs like Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Parents sometimes hold back on the diagnosis process and instead think they can help their child on their own. They sometimes believe the diagnosis of Autism is somehow a reflection of their parenting. It is a myth that a child on the spectrum is, in any way, a reflection on the parent, and has been proven through scientific studies.

How Does Early Intervention Help a Child on the Spectrum?

Many research studies have confirmed that early intervention leads to better outcomes. Applied Behavior Analysis, also known as ABA, is the leading evidence-based treatment for children with Autism. ABA is a scientific approach to understanding behavior.

This process involves identifying the maladaptive behaviors, skill deficits and creating treatment plans needed to shape behavior. ABA uses positive reinforcement and employs the principles of using a rewards-and-consequences system. Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) will conduct family interviews and administer assessment to help the team identify target behaviors and the skill building necessary to help the child reach their identified goals. ABA Pathways can help your child through this treatment by creating an optimal plan that meets your child's specific needs!

How Applied Behavior Analysis Benefits Children with Autism

Applied Behavior Analysis is one of the most common treatments for children on the spectrum. It is one of the most well-documented and established approaches, as it is applied in a systematic and scientific nature. Applied Behavior Analysis is one of the most effective treatments, and includes the implementation of established principles of learning, behavioral strategies, and environmental modifications to improve and teach new behaviors. In practice, implementation must be systematic so clinicians, behavior technicians, parents, teachers, and others involved in the child's life can participate in the child's treatment plan. The ultimate goal of ABA is to establish and enhance socially significant behaviors across many environments and people. Such behaviors can include academic, social, communication, and daily living skills; essentially, any skill that will enhance the independence and/or quality of life for the individual.

How Does Applied Behavior Analysis Work for Children with Autism?

Applied Behavior Analysis works on the concept that behaviors can be modified or taught using rewards and consequences. When a challenging behavior is observed, the BCBA and treatment team will collect the necessary data to create a treatment plan. The treatment plan will focus on the principles and techniques of learning theory to help improve socially significant behavior. BCBAs will typically use an ABC approach to collect the necessary data.

  • A- Antecedent is the event which occurred before the behavior

  • B- Behavior is how the child reacts or behaves because of this event

  • C- Consequence is the event that comes after the behavior

The ABC data helps the BCBA with the treatment planning process. Understanding the triggers and consequences of behavior allows the BCBA to create a plan that includes proactive and reactive strategies. ABA treatment typically targets (1) development of new skills, (2) shaping and refining of previously learned skills, and (3) decreasing socially significant problem behaviors such as tantrums, elopement, aggression and self-harming or violent behaviors.

How to Fund Applied Behavior Analysis for Your Child

ABA is typically covered under private health insurance plans and Medicaid. If your child is under the age of three, you can contact your local Mental Health Agency, Pediatrician or ABA Provider for guidance on how to proceed. Most states provide early intervention through the Department of Health.

If your child is three years old or older, you can contact your local school district or the Office of Special Education within your school district. You may be required to put your request in writing when dealing with the school system. Your child will need to go through evaluations and assessments to determine their eligibility for the applied behavior analysis treatment.

ABA Pathways is committed to helping your family. We will provide your child with a holistic, comprehensive program to learn communication skills and appropriate social behaviors. Applied Behavior Analysis is a treatment that has over forty years of success, and we are ready to use this intervention treatment for your child to ensure them a brighter future.

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