AUTISM AND ABA

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex developmental disability characterized by deficits in language and communication, difficulty with social interactions, and presence of restricted repetitive behaviors. The range and severity of symptoms can vary widely from individual to individual; and there is a saying “if you’ve met one individual with autism, you’ve met one individual with autism.”

Children with ASD present many unique learning challenges and they require highly specialized and individualized treatments. While many treatments are claimed as ASD treatments, behavioral treatment based on the science of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the only evidence-based treatment. Researchers have been documenting the effectiveness of ABA to teach appropriate skills and decrease challenging behaviors in children with ASD over the past 50 years. Its successful remediation of core deficits of ASD has made ABA the standard of care for the treatment of ASD.

Early intervention is critical to the overall development of the child, and there is mounting evidence to support the effectiveness of early intensive behavioral intervention using ABA. It is generally recommended children with ASD under the age of six receive one-on- one instruction in a highly structured setting for 25 to 40 hours per week. For children over the age of six, treatment should continue to be individualized and intensity of intervention should be based on the individual needs of each child and family.

ABA treatment targets a wide range of skills, examples include:
  • Social skills e.g., eye contact, emotion identification, joint attention
  • Language and communication e.g., pointing, requesting, conversational skills
  • Play and leisure skills e.g., pretend play, turn-taking, art project
  • Cognitive, pre-academic, academic skills e.g., reading comprehension, counting, phonetic reading
  • Motor skills e.g., handwriting, riding a bike, buttoning
  • Daily living skills e.g., dressing, eating with utensils, toilet training
  • Community participation e.g., community safety, grocery shopping, riding a bus
  • Reduction of challenging behaviors e.g., aggression, anxiety, repetitive behaviors
The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) offers a booklet of ASD Practice Guidelines that describes and explains the practice and treatment of ABA for ASD, if you are interested, please click here to access the booklet.

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