The Effects of ABA Therapy
Applied behavior analysis—ABA therapy—is used by a wide range of professionals to help individuals at all age levels. It is not just one technique, but many methods utilized to encourage and improve life skills. Because of this, the effects and outcomes vary, especially as different techniques are applied to decrease, increase, maintain and transfer behaviors important to social interaction and engagement.
Some of the most common effects of ABA therapy include:
- Increased language
- Functional communication skill development
- Improved attention
- Better social skills
- Memory improvement
- Increased focus
- Academic skill development
- Decrease in problem behaviors
Because of the wide range of success in these fields, ABA intervention and therapy has been utilized to treat individuals with intellectual disabilities, in addition to those with autism. Professionals utilize it many different settings, including home-based autism services, as well as in classrooms and therapy centers.
According to the Center for Autism & Related Disorders, ABA intervention and therapy is able to benefit and support individuals with autism by:
- Increasing good behaviors and social interactions
- Teaching new skills, including life, communication and social skills
- Maintaining behaviors, such as self-control and self-monitoring
- Transferring behaviors from one situation to another
- Reducing conditions under which interfering behaviors occur
- Diminishing interfering behaviors, such as self-injury or stereotypy
In order to get these outcomes, there must be a personalized approach to each individual’s treatment. A number of different techniques and methods are used to encourage independence and promote better behavior and outcomes. As analyzed in “Effects of Applied Behavior Analysis on Individuals with Autism” by Lisa McNiven, MPA, in consultation with Patrick Blevins, MA, BCBA, these methods range from prompting, environmental modification, time delay and visual schedule use, to differential reinforcement, discrete trial training, extinction and functional communication training. The combination of these techniques are used to effectively benefit behavior, play, school readiness, motor, academic and adaptive skills, among others.
In this May 2016 study, McNiven highlights the parameters of each of these evidence-based ABA methods and identifies the effects the various techniques have on different age groups. For example, she notes the use of visual supports is shown to be effective in developing cognitive skills for 0- to 5-year-olds, increasing motor and adaptive skills in middle school-aged students and developing social skills in ages 0 to 22 years.
Though there are many different approaches, at the center of each is the idea of positive reinforcement. By using the different methods, ABA therapists are able to create a treatment plan that will help better life skills.
At ABC, we are able to see the success of ABA techniques firsthand. As a home-based autism therapy service, we help children develop the skills they need to increase their independence, promote self-sustainability and encourage better behavior. If you are concerned with any type of developmental delay your child may have and interested in finding about more about how we can help, don’t hesitate—contact us today!