Autism spectrum disorder can take many forms. For many children, it is first diagnosed by verbal developmental delays and by an inability to communicate thoughts and ideas in a verbal manner. This is unfortunately a very common occurrence for children with autism spectrum disorder, and while it is certainly difficult for both parents and children, the good news is that there is treatment available. ABA therapy, or Applied Behavior Analysis therapy, is very effective at helping to improve verbal behavior for autistic children, and it is the most widely approved treatment available for children with an autism spectrum disorder.
ABA therapy works through the use of discretionary trial teaching. This method of teaching essentially breaks down a desired behavior or action into the most basic possible steps. Each step is repeated as often as needed until it is able to be mimicked. The steps are first taught using verbal and other prompts, and as the child learns to mimic the behavior, the prompts are slowly taken away until the child can exhibit the action on his or her own. When this happens, the next step is taught and so on until the behavior itself has been learned.
ABA therapy is incredibly effective, and part of this is due to the way that attention is given throughout the process. While most children learn and benefit from scolding and correction, the same is not true for children with autism spectrum disorder. Instead, scolding or correction is still seen as attention, and positive and negative attention are not weighed differently. With ABA therapy, negative or unwanted actions and verbal behaviors are simply ignored, while appropriate actions and behaviors are rewarded through praise or other rewards. This helps to teach children that appropriate behaviors will offer attention, while negative behaviors award none.
Whenever a child is experiencing verbal delays or communication problems, ABA therapy should certainly be considered. Many school systems offer the training, and there are excellent DVD courses available for both parents and schools. For most children, receiving intensive ABA therapy at both home and school at the earliest age possible offers the most hope for recovery. With proper training, many children are even able to function in a traditional classroom setting. ABA therapy is truly beneficial for children with autism spectrum disorder and can help make life much easier for parents and children alike, especially when it comes to teaching verbal behavior skills.
Garrett Butch is the father of a 6 year old with autism and the founder of Maximum Potential Group.
Maximum Potential has developed courses that train parents and school systems how to work with children with autism.
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