ABA is the short form of Applied Behavioral Analysis used for achieving target behavior. ABA has been widely used for treating people with behavioral problem which in due course aims in achieving the resulting change in behavior. There are no concrete rules that constitute ABA therapy and the ultimate goal of this therapy is to obtain the desired outcome. Here the behavioral principles are employed to face the day-to-day situations which also help in facing challenges in life by acquiring different set of skills. Several kinds of aggressive behavior including that of self injury can be repaired using this therapy.
Basically, certain principle of learning theory is adopted in ABA therapy so that the behavior can be tuned to match the needs of the society meaningfully. You can find ABA therapist in large numbers in your area but it is wise to approach a person who is qualified and experienced therapist so that you can get the desired result.
In this method, objective data is used for getting the result and in case the expected target (behavior) is not achieved; suitable modification is done on the program to get the expected result. Using ABA therapy anything like self stimulating behavior, increasing the reading skill, motor skills, eating and dressing pattern and academics can be achieved by tuning the behavior. Children with autism can really benefited by this program but at least 30 hours a week training need to be given to get the best outcome.
Contribution Of Parents :
For treating autistic children with ABA therapy, parents play a crucial role. Children showed remarkable improvement in behavior when parents actively participated in this therapy. It becomes easy for the affected child to modify his/her behavior and action when their parents are involved. Only parents can provide necessary information in proper manner to the child. It is through the guided efforts of the parent a child would be prompted to change his behavior. Again the parents are benefited by participating in this program because their child can carry on daily activities without depending on their parents after undergoing training. It is possible for the parents to track the behavior of their child at home and society easily. It would be easy for the therapist to talk and identify the problematic areas of the child and modify their behavior in the given setup. Hence parent’s involvement in the ABA therapy is useful both for the child and the parents.
Elements Of ABA Therapy :
National Autism Center has designed certain elements of ABA therapy so that effective involvement of the child can be done to achieve the desired target. Some of the components are given below:-
1. Antecedent Manipulation
There are certain events or happenings that precede the desired behavior of the autistic child. Such events have to be identified and manipulated (in controlled settings) so that it increases the chance of targeted behavior. For instance, rewarding the child with ice-cream or his favorite game when the desired behavior is successfully reached can reinforce the child’s behavior. Prompting the child to reach the desired outcome also helps in achieving the target.
2. Behavioral Treatment
Suitable training is given for the affected child to decrease the undesired behavior and to increase the desired behavior. Trial training method is used for replacing the problematic ones with alternative behavior. Some of the programs used for behavioral treatment include reinforcement, functional training, shaping the child and generalization training.
3. Comprehensive Involvement
One to one ratio is adopted (student: teacher) in stimulating the child to achieve the targeted behavior. Such settings are provided both at school and community setup so that the child receives minimum of 25 hours of training per week.
4. Joint Attention Intervention
In this method, suitable programs are designed to encourage the child to respond to stimulus. For instance the child is prompted to point out the right object and to follow the eye gaze. Internal activities are promoted among children to motivate friendship and peer interaction.
Modeling uses the conventional role playing method for achieving the desired result of change in behavior. Here therapist or volunteer would serve as a model and the child is asked to imitate the action. By repeating this plan the child would learn the desired behavior in due course. Rewarding the child who efficiently imitates the teacher serves as reinforcement and this also helps the child to develop acting skills in future.
6. Natural Environment
The environment should be totally stimulating for the child which helps in achieving the desired behavior. The student is encouraged to have active conversation with the teacher and get involved in role playing.
7. Encouraging Peers
This element focuses on active involvement of other children with the autistic child. As the child plays and talks with the peer, he/she is motivated to imitate the behavior of the normal child in due course. Peer training programs and buddy skills are some methods adopted in this category.
8. Response Training
Pivotal or specific target behavior is focused in this method of training. This therapy is useful for improving specific behavior of the child among broad range of changes to be achieved. Some of the techniques used in this method are self management, encouraging social communication and giving response to multiple cues etc.
9. Scheduling The Task
Here the student is trained to follow the schedule for completing particular activity. List of tasks can be drawn in the form of picture or described in words so that the child can easily learn and follow the same.
Story based intervention and self management is some of the elements included in ABA therapy.
ABA Therapy Diagnosis :
- Assessing The Child – Before finding a therapist for ABA training, parents should assess their child first. Comprehensive assessment of the child is to be done by various methods.
- Diagnostic assessment can be done by a licensed psychologist to determine the phase of autism. Tools like Autism diagnostic observation schedule or autism rating scale are widely used. Developmental assessment is done for determining the extent of development in several areas of skill. Areas of cognition, motor skills, adaptive ability and social skills can be assessed. For some children, domain specific assessment can be made in specific areas of focus like inability to speak certain languages etc.
- Further neuropsychological assessment can be done for testing the neurological condition of the affected child.
Finance of ABA therapy may vary depending on many factors like experience of the therapist, program used etc. It may cost anywhere from $60,000 to 120,000 per year with weekly package of 24 hours. Insurance policies differ with each company and hence parents should do some homework for finding the right place with coverage.
For Adults :
ABA therapy can be administered for adults to acquire life skills in order to cope with daily activities with autism. Parents of autistic children can undergo training so that they can give practice for their child throughout the day.
Additional Tips :
- Check the credentials of the therapist before signing the papers.
- Psychologists with specialized training in ABA with board certification can give training.
- Some therapists offer services at public schools also.
- Complete cooperation and involvement of the parents and other members of the home is required for improvement in child’s behavior.