When children have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it can be challenging for parents to know how to help them succeed. One of the best ways to help a child with ASD is through applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy. Proven to improve the skills of kids with ASD and decrease problematic behaviors, ABA works best when parent training is integrated into treatment strategies. That’s because parents play an integral role in ABA therapy and can work with their children outside of the therapeutic session.
What is ABA therapy?Applied behavior analysis focuses on how behavior works and how it’s impacted by certain environments. It also examines the concept of learning strategies and how they apply to people with ASD. A combination of behavioral knowledge and observation is used by an ABA therapist to gain a thorough understanding of each patient’s behavioral patterns. Then the therapist is better able to customize therapeutic strategies to meet the needs of the individual patient. The objective of ABA therapy is to help people with ASD engage and positive behaviors and minimize negative behaviors. The long-term goal is to help individuals become more independent.
What techniques are used in ABA?ABA is not a one-size-fits-all therapy, and there are many different techniques utilized by ABA therapists to encourage positive behaviors and minimize negative ones, including:
Positive reinforcement like praise, a toy, or a treat, to reward individuals for appropriate behavior.
Discrete trial training, using brief, clear, instructions to prompt the desired response.
Picture exchange communication system (PCES) teaches people with ASD to communicate using pictures.
What is a parent’s role in this therapeutic approach?Parents are integrally involved in ABA as part of the caregiving team and when parents are involved, children learn faster. If you have a child with ASD, you’ll work with the therapists and doctors to:
Assess your child, identifying troublesome behaviors and providing background.
Develop a plan, determining how your child prefers to learn, setting goals for treatment, and identifying interventions to improve your family life.
Collect information, keeping track of your child’s progress and sharing that data.
How can parents reinforce ABA therapy?Watching your child’s sessions, you can assess your own skills and determine how to build them to help your child, considering how to incorporate the therapist’s techniques into your own style. Learning how to reinforce ABA therapy is important because parents spend much more time with their children than the therapists do. The work of ABA seeks to improve social skills, communication, reading, fine motor skills, and more, in order to help people with ASD become more independent and successful.