Thursday, October 18, 2012

ABA Therapy Can Help Curb Negative Behaviors For Autistic Children

Time and again, I hear from parents who say that their children are being punished in school for negative behaviors. These kids are often chastised, suspended, or even spanked for engaging in behaviors that are considered disruptive to other students. Unfortunately, most school systems have rules in place that mandate that all children be punished in a similar manner. While this is designed to help prevent discrimination, it is certainly not the best way to treat children with autism spectrum disorder. These children require a different method of behavior teaching, and ABA therapy offers the best way to provide it.
Negative behaviors in autistic children are typically not done for the purpose of disrupting a class or for the benefit of anyone else. Instead, these behaviors are the result of the consequences that follow. While most children perceive punishment as negative and thus learn to stop the behavior, children with autism instead see that the behavior was met with attention, making it more likely to continue. ABA therapy is designed to ignore negative behaviors and actions, which in turn teaches children with autism that acting inappropriately will provide no result.
With ABA therapy, positive reinforcement is used to help create behaviors and actions that are not disruptive. For example, a child can be met with praise whenever they raise their hand or say please in order to ask a question. Positive reinforcement rewards appropriate responses with attention, encouraging the child to repeat the behavior in the future. By providing this reinforcement whenever the right behaviors are presented, the child actually learns how to behave in a social setting or environment. While there are many who argue that this is simply a form of memorization, studies show that the repetition actually helps to map the brain so that it understands how to act rather than acting based solely on memory.
ABA therapy is proven to be the most effective when started at an early age. Studies also show that because many children need intensive therapy in order to receive the most benefit, it is especially helpful when the therapy is offered both at home and within the school system. ABA training is available as a DVD course for parents and school systems alike, and when everyone is on the same page, it becomes much easier to provide students with consistent, quality training that can help stop negative behaviors for good.
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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