Did you know that about 1 in 68 children are now diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder? No one is exactly sure why this has become so prevalent as of recent years, but school systems are still trying to play catch up when it comes to accommodating these students in a way that helps to engage them and ensures social development and independent skills.
One thing that can help children with autism successfully integrate and be independent is ABA therapy, or applied behavior analysis. But what exactly is this technique — and how can your child obtain it?
What is It?
ABA therapy focuses on understanding how, exactly, learning takes place. Positive reinforcement is one example of this. When a child exhibits a certain behavior that therapists want to encourage, they are positively rewarded for it. Over the years, the techniques used in this therapy have been developed and perfected so that useful behaviors are encouraged, and techniques that might interfere with learning are not used. ABA therapy can help encourage basic skills — listening, looking, and imitating for example — and can also help participants build upon more complex skills like having a conversation or reading.
Many practitioners of ABA therapy allow children to take the lead in their interactions and therapy helps them to understand their place within a conversation or group, encouraging things like empathy and understanding (while we may think of these as simply marks of a ?nice person,? empathy is an important part of social functioning — being able to understand how you make others feel through action or conversation allows people to create healthy, positive relationships with others and not offend).
Credited by Multiple Agencies
As the vaccination/autism myth makes clear, there is a lot of misinformation surrounding autism that can make people understandably wary of techniques that are supposed to help it. However, ABA therapy has been endorsed by many high-up health and wellness agencies, such as the New York State Department of Health, and the U.S. Surgeon General.
In most cases, you?re going to want an accredited therapist to handle ABA therapy. Why? There are many steps involved in both planning the treatment and being able to correctly evaluate how treatment is progressing. The therapist will help to establish treatment goals such as self-care, motor development, sociability, etc. The instructor will also be able to break down goals into simple, manageable tasks that can be built upon as the subject progresses.