Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
For many people who are “new” to the “world of autism” and the subject of applied behavior analysis – it is a set of tools to help parents work with their children’s applied behavior analysts. Although the tool kit was developed with children and teens in mind, it also contains helpful information for those wanting to better understand and support ABA therapy for an adult with autism.
Behavior analysis is a scientifically validated approach to understanding behavior and how it is affected by the environment. In this context, “behavior” refers to actions and skills. “Environment” includes any influence – physical or social – that might change or be changed by one’s behavior. Obviously the goal is to allow service like ours (Innovative Behavior Options) to create therapies that will help to make productive changes in behavior and promote independence.
The principles and methods of behavior analysis have helped many different kinds of learners acquire many different skills – from healthier lifestyles to the mastery of a new language. Since the 1960s, therapists have been applying behavior analysis to help children with autism and related developmental disorders.
As these tools are implemented with a focus on the principles that explain how learning takes place. Positive reinforcement is one such principle. When a behavior is followed by some sort of reward, the behavior is more likely to be repeated. Through decades of research, the field of behavior analysis has developed many techniques for increasing useful behaviors and reducing those that may cause harm or interfere with learning.
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the use of these techniques and principles to bring about meaningful and positive change in behavior.
Today, ABA is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for autism. It has been endorsed by a number of state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Surgeon General as well as most state agencies. Over the last decade, the nation has seen a particularly dramatic increase in the use of ABA to help persons with autism live happy and productive lives. In particular, ABA principles and techniques can foster basic skills such as looking, listening and imitating, as well as complex skills such as reading, conversing and understanding another person’s perspective.
A number of completed studies have demonstrated that ABA techniques can produce improvements in communication, social relationships, play, self care, school and employment. These studies involved age groups ranging from preschoolers to adults. Results for all age groups showed that ABA increased participation in family and community activities.
Programs like those that we implement here at Innovative Behavior Options allow children to learn and practice skills in both structured and unstructured situations. The “intensity” of these programs may be particularly important to replicate the thousands of interactions that typical children experience each day while interacting with their parents and peers.
Such studies have demonstrated that many children with autism experience significant improvements in learning, reasoning, communication and adaptability when they participate in high-quality ABA programs such as ours. Some preschoolers who participate in early intensive ABA for two or more years acquire sufficient skills to participate in regular classrooms with little or no additional support. Other children learn many important skills, but still need additional educational support to succeed in a classroom.
A number of recent studies confirm that ABA techniques are effective for building important life skills in teens and adults with autism.
Competently delivered ABA intervention can help learners with autism make meaningful changes in many areas. However, changes do not typically occur quickly. Rather, most learners require intensive and ongoing instruction that builds on their step-by-step progress. Moreover, the rate of progress – like the goals of intervention – varies considerably from person to person depending on age, level of functioning, family goals and other factors.
Our Mission is to serve our clients by creating individualized learning and behavior programs that promote independence and facilitate reaching their highest potential. We invite your contact for more information about our services.