Autism treatments are unfortunately few and far between.
Living with autism is difficult. The world is always slightly more slanted in your home than it is in other people’s. You have extra work to do at every turn. If it’s a child who suffers from autism, then there’s extra worry. You would do anything and everything in your power to protect your child. Most days that means doing extra work than other parents just to get less of a result. It can be devastating, but treatments such as Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy can offer some relief.
What is Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy?
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA for short) is not just a treatment for autism. Therapists can use it for multiple mental health conditions, including helping patients with eating disorders to examine their triggers. ABA is an interpersonal therapy, which means it is one of the talking therapies. Talking therapies feature a trained professional who interacts with the patient. Children with autism struggle with social development, maintaining self-control, and learning behaviors. ABA seeks to improve these areas of an autistic child’s life.
What Happens During an Applied Behavior Therapy Session?
According to the experts in ABA at Action Behavior, the therapy works through a series of sessions. Subjects show improvement in a reduction in maladaptive behavior after a year or more of sessions.
During the first few sessions, the child’s therapist will play with them. They will build trust and get to know what triggers the child has. After those initial sessions, the therapist will identify key areas your child struggles with, then develop an action plan to start working on those specific areas. An action plan might include special games or activities that help foster discussions and progress in those areas.
For example, if your child struggles with social interaction, playing games that imitate these interactions can build their confidence and improve the result.
How Does ABA Work?
Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy works using positive reinforcement combined with behavior and consequence reiteration. Many autistic children and people with destructive mental illnesses don’t connect their actions to the consequences of those actions. This therapy type works hard to correct that disconnect.
When a child in ABA therapy performs a play task or action well, communicates clearly, or otherwise achieves a goal, the therapist will reward them extensively. Positive reinforcement means always responding positively when something goes right.
On the opposite side of the coin, the therapist will teach negative consequences to children who don’t behave correctly. If the goal is to improve maladaptive behavior in a child who hits others, the therapist can use themselves as the other person. If the child hits, they get a negative reaction. The therapist takes away the toys. If they do well, they get more toys.
Does Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy Work?
Absolutely. Autism Speaks reports that ABA improves language and communication, attention, focus, social skills, memory, and academic excellence – and that it decreases maladaptive behavior. As any parent of an autistic child will tell you: every little help.