Saturday, August 27, 2011

Applied Behavioral Analysis - An Effective Autism Treatment for Children

When you talk about autism treatment for children, one name will keep coming up again and again. Applied Behavioral Analysis, or ABA, is probably the most common treatment for autistic children, as well as being the most scientifically backed.

Of course, the decision of what kind of autism treatment to pursue for your children is always a difficult one. There are so many different kinds, and trying to separate what therapies are safe and effective and which are snake oil can be difficult. You also have to consider how much money you have to spend on the therapies that won't be covered by insurance, and how much time you have to spend managing and directing the therapies. Autism is not curable, but it can be improved. Different kids, however, are going to improve at different rates and to different levels.

ABA Breaks Tasks Down Into Simple Steps

ABA is often a good starting point for the treatment of autism in children. It was developed by Ivar Lovaas, and is based on the theory of teaching a child how to do simple tasks in a step-by-step method. With ABA, the child is rewarded for achieving goals, usually quite small goals that get incrementally harder and more complicated as time goes on.

ABA is a behaviorally oriented theory of autism treatment. It is based on the idea that if you want to see a particular behavior in someone, you reward them doing it in incremental steps. As a result, they learn to do it more and more. Behaviorism originally said that negative behaviors should be punished, but it is rare that aversives, or negative consequences, are ever used in autism treatment anymore.

Since children with autism have difficulty learning from their environment, ABA breaks things into little pieces for them.

How ABA Works

The therapist sits with a child in a room, and asks the child to do a task of some sort. For example, ask his mother for a glass of juice. The child is prompted about how to do it, and if he does, he is rewarded (by some chocolates perhaps, or an enthusiastic "Good job!")

If the child does not respond, or does not complete the desired behavior, the request is repeated until the child is able to master it. If the desired task is too difficult, it is broken into smaller steps.

ABA involves keeping a lot of data. The therapist records how many times the child was able to accomplish the stated goal. This data is then used to measure how effective the therapy is.

ABA is meant to be a very intense therapy and usually requires around 40 hours a week for it to work well. This can be expensive as well as rather tedious for many people. Modified versions can sometimes work as well, however.

There are many different forms of autism treatment for children, but ABA is, for many kids, a good place to start.

And parents should learn as much as you can about other forms of treatment for autism. Tips from other parents and professionals can be extremely helpful. A great site that has tips and suggestions for additional treatments is the There you can sign up for their FREE newsletter with tips and info on autism.

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