ABA Therapy Explained
Endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General and considered one of the best treatments by the American Psychological Association, applied behavior analysis (ABA) is one of the most popular and successful evidence-based treatments for autism.
In A Nutshell
Applied behavior analysis is an approach used to understand and modify behavior based on scientifically validated principles. Therapists use this learning program rooted in behavioral psychology to encourage and reinforce positive behaviors and discourage negative behaviors in those with autism or other developmental delays. The results range from improving social skills, communication and self-control, to school-readiness, attention and focus, among many others.
While roots of ABA come from a psychological science that is over 100 years old, modern ABA typically regards its establishment with Dr. Ivar Lovaas’ evidence-based work in 1980, which stemmed from the work of American psychologists J. B. Watson and B.F. Skinner (who is said to have “popularized” the psychology branch of behaviorism).
In Dr. Lovaas’ study, which was published in the 1987 article “Behavioral Treatment and Normal Educational and Intellectual Functioning in Young Autistic Children,” more than 90 percent of children that received 40 hours a week of intensive behavioral therapies had significant improvements. The therapies followed Lovaas’s methods for two to six years and the results included advances in socialization and substantial cognitive developments.
Soon thereafter came the first Journal of Applied behavior Analysis in 1968, which featured Baer, Wolf and Risley’s “Some Current dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis” article that established the seven core principles off of which ABA practices are built.
Often used in classrooms and in both center- and home-based autism services, ABA therapy takes many forms and utilizes a number of different techniques. It is a broad approach, not a one-size-fits-all program.
Because of this, highly trained professionals assess each client individually to get a better understanding of where they are and what behaviors need development and attention. They will then determine goals and develop a personalized approach to each client that is based upon an established curriculum and focuses on increasing useful behaviors and decreasing problematic responses and harmful behaviors that may hinder learning.
Some of the different types of ABA, highlighted by the CDC and several different studies, include:
- Discrete Trial Training (DTT)
- Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI)
- Pivotal Response Training (PRT)
- Verbal Behavior Intervention (VBI)
- Environmental Modification
- Task Analysis (TA)
- Time Delay (TD)
- Functional Communication Training (FCT)
- Differential Reinforcement
- Visual Supports (VS)
Advantages & Benefits
The benefits of ABA therapy range in scope and depth. It really does all depend on the individual. However, it has been proven time and time again to develop a collection of life skills, from increased attention and focus to more self-control, academic skill development, problem behavior reduction and functional communication improvement.
In fact, according to the Autism Society, research has shown that almost half of all individuals with developmental delays who undergo early intensive ABA therapy have improvement so significant they can’t be distinguished from peers.
It is not something we take lightly. ABA is an approach we believe in and have seen results from in our clients. If you are in the southwest Chicagoland suburbs searching for “autism therapy near me,” we serve clients all around the Western Springs area and would love to talk to you today.