Applied behavioral analysis (ABA) is a type of therapy that can improve social, communication, and learning skills through positive reinforcement.
Many experts consider ABA to be the gold-standard treatment for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other developmental conditions. But it’s sometimes used in the treatment of other conditions as well, including:
How does it work?
Initial consultation with a therapist trained in ABA. This consultation is called a functional behavior assessment (FBA). The therapist will ask about your child’s strengths and abilities & things that challenge them.
ABA also relies on parents and caregivers to help reinforce desired behaviors outside of therapy.
Your child’s therapist will teach you and your child’s teachers about strategies that will help to reinforce the work they do in therapy.
You’ll also learn how to safely avoid types of reinforcement that are less effective, such as giving in to tantrums.
Developing a plan
Your child’s therapist will use their observations from the initial consultation to create a formal plan for therapy. This plan should align with your child’s unique needs and include concrete treatment goals.
ABA therapists try to uncover causes of certain behaviors to help your child change or improve them. Over the course of therapy, your child’s therapist may adapt their approach based on how your child responds to certain interventions.
As long as your child continues treatment, their therapist will continue to monitor their progress and analyze which strategies are working and where your child may benefit from different treatment tactics.
ABA often results in children:
- showing more interest in people around them
- communicating with other people more effectively
- having more focus at school
- reducing or stopping self-harming behaviors
- having fewer tantrums or other outbursts
- learning to ask for things they want (a certain toy or food, for example), clearly and specifically