Autism and ABA Therapy

To understand ABA therapy, it’s important to learn more about a large field of scientific study called behavior analysis. Within it, researchers use distinct principles to understand the relationship between a child’s behavior and their environment, and how one can influence the other. Behavior analysis is a recognized profession that requires specialized training and regulatory practices, overseen by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board® (BACB®).

At Simplified Behavioral Health, we practice Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, which uses systematic, evidence-based methods to improve socially significant behaviors in children with autism. Hundreds of studies have shown that ABA is the most effective form of autism therapy, and it is endorsed by the US Surgeon General.

What is the goal of ABA therapy?

The term applied means two things in ABA therapy.

  • Interventions measure behavior and help a child acquire socially significant behaviors.

  • Careful programming by the behavior analyst helps children use their new skills in situations outside of the therapy setting.

What are the components of ABA therapy?

ABA therapy involves multiple treatment steps that help children overcome challenging behaviors and develop socially significant skills.

Overcoming challenging behavior

  • Functional Behavior Assessment, or FBA: An FBA is one of the first assessments conducted in ABA therapy when a child engages in challenging behavior. It is a comprehensive set of assessment procedures to help understand why problem behavior occurs so that the therapist can best provide intervention services. FBA involves an indirect assessment, direct observational data collection and sometimes a systematic, structured assessment called a functional analysis. The results can reveal a cause and effect relationship between a problem behavior and what is maintaining it.

  • Defining a plan: After assessing challenging behavior, specialists at Simplified Behavioral Health develop a collaborative function-based treatment plan with parents to reach a set goal. The team discusses the best therapeutic methods and measurements of success to try under the ABA plan.

Developing new skills

  • Systematic instructional procedures: Simplified Behavioral Health specialists are trained in the most-effective ways to teach children with autism. Some of these methods include discrete trial training (or breaking down a task into small, achievable pieces), positive reinforcement, repetition and altering antecedent stimuli. These strategies help children with autism learn.

  • Ongoing assessment: ABA therapy does not end when a goal is met. An effective behavior specialist will continue to support their client, revisiting instruction when needed. The goal is to help the child continually experience success with their learned skill, in different settings and as they grow.

With the right interventions through ABA therapy, children can improve their behaviors and reach their full potential.