Sunday, November 27, 2011

Parenting Tips - What is Applied Behavioral Analysis and Can it Treat My Child With Autism?

Are you the parent of a young child with autism? Did you know that
there is a behavioral treatment for autism, called applied behavioral
analysis (ABA)? This article will educate you about ABA, so that you
can advocate special education personnel for this effective therapy.

Applied behavioral analysis is a well documented and effective
teaching method for many children with autism. This method involves 1
on 1 instructional sessions and utilizes educational tasks that have
been developed for autism.

This method was designed by O.I. Lovaas. His study in 1987, in
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology showed "90% of children
substantially improved when utilizing the Lovaas Model of ABA compared
to the control. Close to half of the group attained a normal IQ and
tested with in the normal range on adaptive and social skills."
Several follow up studies also showed major improvements in most
children with autism, that have received ABA.

For ABA to be most effective the child needs to start as close to age
3 as possible, or at least by age 5. The ABA program needs to be 1 on
one for 30-40 hours per week. The child should continue receiving the
intense ABA program, for at least 3-4 years. The cost is high,
$30-50,000 per year. This is why many parents set up the program at
home, and seek reimbursement from their school district. Check out ABA
caselaw at

While some states have passed autism specific private insurance
mandates, only three states specifically require payment for ABA.
These states are: South Carolina, Texas, and Indiana. Florida has
pending legislation as of April 24, 2008.

It is critical that the person that designs the program is a
professional in behavior analysis with a masters or doctorate degree.
This person should also have experience in working with children with
autism. This person is also responsible for supervising the teacher
assistants, training and meeting with them to go over your child's

A wonderful book on ABA is "Behavior Intervention for Young Children
With Autism" which is edited by Catherine Maurice and Co edited by
Gina Green and Stephen C. Luce.

There are many organizations that have information on Autism and
Applied Behavioral Analysis. Some of these organizations are: Defeat
Autism Now, Cure Autism Now, and Autism Speaks.

By understanding what ABA is, how it can be used to treat children
with autism, the positive outcome for most children receiving it, you
will be able to advocate for your own child. It may be a fight with
special education personnel, but your child is worth it!

JoAnn Collins is the mother of two adults with disabilities, and has helped families navigate the special eduation system, as an advocate, for over 15 years. She is a presenter and author of the book "Disability Deception; Lies Disability Educators Tell and How Parents Can Beat Them at Their Own Game." The book has a lot of resources and information to help parents fight for an appropriate education for their child. For a free E newsletter entitled "The Special Education Spotlight" send an E mail to: For more information on the book, testimonials about the book, and a link to more articles go to:

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