What is ABA Therapy?
ABA is a form of therapy that aims to improve specific behaviors in patients. These behaviors can include social skills, communication, academics, and adaptive learning skills such as fine motor dexterity and domestic capability. ABA is primarily used to treat autism, but it is also effective for children and adults with psychological disorders in a variety of settings, including schools, workplaces, homes, and clinics. Studies have shown that consistent ABA can significantly improve behaviors and skills and decrease the need for special services.
ABA Therapy was developed by psychologist Ole Ivar Lovaas in the 1960s. Before ABA Therapy was developed, Lovaas began his work in the 1950s using the Freudian approach to individuals that engaged in self-injury. ABA therapists historically used electric shock therapy to punish autistic patients for self-injurious behavior and rewarded them with love and hugs when they were not displaying this behavior.
The past use of electric shock therapy on individuals with intellectual disabilities is controversial, but its effectiveness in changing behavior could not be denied. At the time, this was considered cutting-edge work and it changed the direction of treatment. In 1960, Lovaas made a shift from working on individuals using a Freudian theory-based practice to one that is based solely on empirical evaluation and reliable data creating what is now known as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy.
What are the Benefits of ABA Therapy for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder?
ABA therapy has been shown to be beneficial for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder in a number of ways, including:
- foundational skills needed for continued learning in a natural environment
- improved communication, social, and safety skills for early learners
- successful transition into school with school simulation learning
- coping skills for individuals who struggle with intense emotions
- necessary practices for sustaining an independent life
How does ABA Therapy Benefit Caregivers?
ABA Therapists work with families to help them understand and implement the ABA process into their daily lives. ABA Therapists provide families with strategies for teaching their child in a home and community setting. ABA Therapists also help caregivers implement strategies for successful play dates, pediatrician visits, and community outings.
What Should Be Expected in ABA Therapy?
Services will vary depending on the specific goals of each child and how the child learns best. You can expect interactive, hands-on, structured, naturalistic services. In addition to encouraging a positive environment, ABA Therapists also celebrate the progress and successes of their patients. As part of the services, Registered Behavior Technicians are usually there and focused on each child’s specific needs: functioning, self-help, social interaction, and communication skills. ABA services are available for individuals of all ages, in a wide range of settings. These include home-based services, center-based services, community-based services, school-based services, or virtual services.
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