Autism does not have a cure. However, behavioral interventions for children with autism, is one of the most effect interventions used that can profoundly diminish the symptoms of autism and help a child with autism lead a productive and fulfilling life. A child with autism can experience both social and educational challenges. When behavior therapy is used as a treatment plan, can help alleviate the challenges that many children with autism face. After all, no one wants to see their child become frustrated in school or life and then feel helpless. The most important thing to remember is that no one plan is the end all be all for treating autism, each child has unique needs and it is important that parents find a treatment that works for their child.
Overall, the most generally accepted and successful treatment approach for children with autism is behavior therapy. This is an effective approach for children across the autism spectrum, not just for children with behavioral issues. Behavior therapy is widely implemented as a tool to help develop social skills for children with autism.
As a parent, it may be confusing deciding which treatment is best for your child with autism. Schools may tell you one thing and you may hear something else from a parent group. There is no one right answer. One thing that has been proven is that the earlier the intervention the better. The sooner your child begin behavioral therapy the easier it will be for your child to learn age-appropriate social skills and better transition into society.
One of the most effect and used behavior support for students with autism is applied behavior analysis (ABA). This type of behavior intervention is safe, flexible, and when used, has proven effective. Parents continuously report that ABA has had tremendous positive results for their child with autism. Whether a child is three years old or seventeen years old, ABA is one of the most reliable ways for a child to develop social, communication, academic, life skills, and emotional skills that will make them successful in the classroom and in life.
So what is applied behavior analysis (ABA)?
ABA is a behavior intervention that focuses on developing social skills, language, and self-help abilities through positive reinforcement. A behavior interventionist will either, go to a child’s house or school, and work one-on-one with the child to develop these skills. Some things a behavior interventionist might do is intervening on problem behavior such as aggression or defiance and then teach them a positive replacement behavior. The child is essentially rewarded for the positive behavior. An ABA therapist might work with a child on turn-taking skills. Instead of always interrupting the other person in a conversation, a behavior interventionist might teach a child to learn to wait until the appropriate time in the conversation before interjecting.
During a session with a child, an ABA therapist will introduce new skills to the child. An overwhelming amount of research has proven that ABA is highly effective in reducing problematic behavior of a child with autism. The ABA therapist will teach the child through modeling and role-playing activities. The child will be able to watch the therapist use the appropriate behaviors and then try the behavior with the support of the therapist.
There are many skills that a child may not be interested in learning or may not see the value in learning. For example, a child might not be interested in having eye contact when they talk to someone. An ABA therapist would work with that child on learning to have eye contact anyways because of the value of that skill in the long run. Whether it is for a casual conversation or a job interview, making eye contact with a person while they are talking to you is a skill that is important in the work place and in social situations.
ABA therapists are trained to assess the child and create sessions that individually benefit the child. What one child needs to work on could be completely different from what another child needs to work on in life. Some children need as many as 30-40 hours per week in ABA therapy and other children may only need 4 hours a week. When children begin to practice these positive behaviors and their social skills start to improve, ABA will continue to help the child in maintaining and cementing those life-long skills.