Ask any parent what their aspirations and dreams for their children are. You’ll realize every parent wants their child to become independent and joyous. The challenge lies in unlocking a child’s potential as they grow up.
While there are many strategies out there, one scientifically proven therapy, Applied Behavior Analysis or ABA, stands out. As defined by Forbes, ABA is a scientific, data-supported study of behavior that relies on research-based interventions to change behavior. Simply put, ABA treatment focuses on encouraging a child to foster positive behavior and discourage them from practicing behaviors that affect their lives negatively.
This post aims to discuss the truth about ABA therapy, including its transformative impact on child development and how it works.
The Transformative Impact of ABA on Children
As a parent, it’s natural to have concerns about how ABA therapy benefits your child before committing to it. First, it’s important to understand that the primary focus of applied behavior analysis is elevating the quality of life for children living with autism. However, therapists use this therapeutic approach to teach meaningful skills and support positive behaviors to different populations. So, whether your child is autistic, has ADHD, phobias, or is without special needs, they can still benefit from ABA therapy. Here are ways ABA can transform your child’s life.
1. Enhanced Communication and Social Skills
For a child to become successful in life, they must know how to express their desires, needs, and emotions. ABA puts a strong emphasis on teaching children excellent communication skills through gestures, words, and assistive communication devices to communicate with those around them.
2. Improved Learning
A report on a meta-analysis study published in ScienceDirect reveals ABA therapy is effective in enhancing intellectual abilities. Note that ABA involves teaching children how to follow instructions and complete tasks. As your child attends therapy, they practice these skills, which boost their concentration levels and memory, helping to contribute to academic success.
3. Reduction in Problematic Behaviors
Parents facing behavioral issues with their children have a difficult time nurturing important life skills in their kids as they grow up. While it’s normal for children to throw tantrums, in some cases, those living with autism may display harmful behaviors. According to this article in the National Library of Medicine, challenging behaviors in autism may include aggression towards others and self-injury like biting fingers, pulling hair, and headbanging. These traits not only hinder a child’s ability to learn but can also endanger the child and lead to heightened stress for family members.
ABA addresses problematic behaviors through functional behavior analysis and reinforcement. Using functional behavior analysis, therapists identify the root cause of harmful behaviors, while reinforcement involves rewards that encourage children to practice positive behaviors.
4. Better Social Skills
With improved communication and positive behaviors, a child can easily connect with peers and form lasting relations. However, some kids have trouble starting or engaging in conversations, taking turns, or understanding social cues. Applied behavior analysis targets these challenges and helps children build confidence when interacting with others.
5. Promotes Independence
ABA interventions extend to daily living skills, helping children to be more independent. Depending on a child’s strengths and weaknesses, a therapist will teach skills or tasks on a step-by-step basis. This means breaking down tasks into small, manageable components. Over time, the child can learn how to do complex tasks on their own. Because ABA works on generalization, the skills learned in therapy can be applied in different environments so a child can navigate daily life.
Understanding How ABA Works to Nurture Child Development
ABA works based on the science of psychology and uses principles that involve reinforcement to foster change in:
- a child’s actions
- communication skills
- learning processes
With that said, let’s break down the steps or processes ABA uses to promote a child’s development.
Given ABA focuses on behaviors, it’s natural for practitioners to begin the first session with a thorough behavior evaluation. An assessment helps a therapist understand your child’s strengths, weaknesses, and areas that require interventions. A therapist will then customize a treatment program for the child.
Personalized Treatment Plan
Personalization is a key component of ABA. After all, each child has different strengths and faces unique challenges, and therefore requires a treatment plan that addresses their specific needs. With that in mind, it’s important to seek an ABA therapy center that focuses on one-on-one therapy. Why one-on-one therapy? These sessions offer personalized attention and individualized goal setting tailored to a child’s unique needs. You can be certain your child receives the attention and interventions they need to succeed as they grow.
Data-Driven Decision Making
A board certified behavior analyst (BCBA) relies on data to determine which interventions best suit a patient’s needs. So, they will monitor your child’s progress and collect data to detect patterns. The insights gathered enable the therapist to adjust treatment accordingly for better outcomes.
It’s impossible to discuss ABA therapy without highlighting the use of positive reinforcement. Using positive reinforcement increases the frequency of positive behavior from kids. For instance, when you reward a child with praise or a tangible reward for playing with others without aggression, they are more likely to continue positively interacting with others. Positive reinforcement also makes therapy sessions fun, creating a comfortable atmosphere for kids to learn new skills.
Developed as a treatment program for children with autism spectrum disorder, today ABA focuses on different populations. Its effectiveness in improving communication skills, social interactions, learning capabilities, and promoting independence makes it ideal for unlocking a child’s potential. Several features of applied behavior analysis therapy help promote child development. These features or principles are behavior assessment, data analysis, positive reinforcement, and personalized interventions.
This is a contributed post:
Brad Zelinger is the Founder and CEO of Stride Autism Centers.