ABCs of ABA therapy for autism
In fact, ABA-based therapy is currently used to treat 64 percent of children affected by ASD and is considered the gold standard for treatment. The growing number of children affected by ASD receiving ABA-based therapy is very encouraging due to its strong evidence-based treatment for ameliorating the problem behaviors and developing socially acceptable replacement behaviors. ABA-based treatment for children affected by ASD recognized and supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Research Council and hundreds of peer review studies. For many years, families of children diagnosed with ASD have been exposed to numerous non-science-based intervention, so I’m excited to see that more families are educated about ABA therapy and how it works.
What’s most important for parents and caregivers of children affected by autism to know is that with ABA therapy, you are not changing the child on the inside. Rather, you are changing the environment around them and developing functional social behaviors. ABA is not a quick fix or easy; it takes a commitment from families, schools and the social community.
Qualification and experience: Is the provider a Board Certified Behavior Analysist? And if not, are they licensed? Does the therapist have experience working with children affected by ASD? And is the experience comparable to your own child’s level? There is a very wide spectrum of specialties. Visit bacb.com/verify-certification/ to see if your behavior analyst is certified.
Training: Who provides the actual therapy? In most cases, it is not the supervising behavior analyst. In most case, the actual direct treatment is provided by a trained behavior technician under the direction of the behavior analyst. Parents need to know the experience and training of the behavior technician. Parents should also ask how often the behavior analysis will observe and direct the behavior technician.
Family involvement: How does the program include the family in treatment? And does the philosophy match with your own? The ABA-based intervention needs to become part of a child’s home and school-based routines.
Outcomes: Measurable objective behavior is critical in the world of ABA therapy. Parents should be able to visually inspect individualized treatment graphs to quickly determine if their child is making progress. Treatment graphs should be easily understood by anyone working with the child. Ask your ABA therapist how they will measure your child’s improvement, then ask that they show you. If the therapy is not working, make modifications or change.
Goals: Most importantly, at the end of the day, the family’s priorities need to be identified and prioritized during ABA therapy. If getting your child to sleep through the night so that the family can function and support one another during the day is critical, that needs to be shared with the therapist. Ask your therapist what his or her goals are for your child. Then agree to what you want and make sure your goals are achievable.
Boca Raton resident Steve Woolf, president of Butterfly Effects, a national Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy provider based in Deerfield Beach, has been working with children and families affected by autism spectrum disorder for over 20 years.
Here is the link for the interview: