What is ABA Therapy?
Being aware of the best modalities as a therapist is essential to your practice. Applied Behavior Analysis, more commonly known as ABA therapy, is a testament is one of the ‘gold standard’ treatments for addressing behavioral concerns, especially in clients with autism and other developmental disorders.
ABA can help you change lives, by enhancing client independence and giving people the skills to foster social relationships. This article helps you gain a comprehensive understanding of ABA, explore its application and techniques, and describes how to apply it to your practice.
We’ll also explain how Quenza, a software platform designed specifically for coaches and therapists, can help you make your practice more inclusive!
Principles of ABA Therapy
At the core of ABC therapy lies the principle that behavior is influenced by our environment and can be changed by altering environmental factors. There are two main goals of ABA: one is to teach skills, and the second is to decrease behaviors that are harmful or negatively affect learning.
ABA therapy uses our knowledge of how behavior works in real situations. You look at the ABCs to bring about a change. This allows you as a therapist to devise strategies accordingly.
Antecedents (A) : You assess what happens before a behavior
Behavior (B) : You identify actions which can be timed, counted, or reinforced.
Consequences (C): You assess for what happens after the behavior occurs
The good thing is that you don’t have to do this on your own and can use software like Quenza, which comes with dozens of ready-made tools. Check out these snippets from our Activity, The ABC Model of Helpful Behavior:
How does ABA Therapy Work in Practice?
What does ABA therapy do for autism? Each child and therapist take a journey, which begins with a detailed assessment. This captures the individual’s strengths, challenges, and environmental factors. For a child with autism, emphasis might be on increasing social interactions, enhancing communication, or reducing self-stimulatory behaviors.
When integrated holistically and paired with the right therapist, research shows that children undergoing intensive ABA therapy can make significant gains in IQ, language, academic performance, and adaptive behavior .
ABA Therapy Example
Imagine a situation where a child screams every time they’re handed a toy they don’t like. Using ABA, you identify this as an interfering behavior and introduce an intervention. The child is taught to exchange the unwanted toy for a preferred one, reducing the screaming. You empower the child to communicate and get their needs met, without resorting to interfering behavior.
Components of an ABA Therapy Program
Every ABA program is a structured and tailored treatment plan that is custom-made, taking into consideration the person’s existing skills, preferences, and needs. With Quenza, you can achieve this in under 20 minutes, using a range of templates and predefined codes for in-depth blueprints.
Example ABA therapy program:
- Assessment: Identifying the interfering behavior.
- Goal Setting: Determining short-term and long-term goals for skill building.
- Intervention: Implementing techniques and tools based on individual needs.
- Monitoring: Regularly assessing change and making adjustments to the plan.
ABA Therapy Techniques
Tools for therapists are essential to work with clients. The ABA therapy program is vast and encompasses various techniques that are based on behavioral principles. Let’s take a closer look:
- Discrete Trial Training (DTT): A structured method where complex skills are broken down into simpler ones.
- Pivotal Response Training (PRT): This method creates a natural environment for the learner, and positively reinforces the desired behaviors.
- Incidental Teaching: Utilizes spontaneous interactions and opportunities to teach skills.
How effective is ABA therapy for autism?
ABA therapy, when delivered empathetically, can be life-altering. However, it’s essential to ensure the therapy respects and understands the individual’s unique world.
When it comes to behavior therapy, what works for one learner, works for one learner. In other words, the same intervention or approach doesn’t work for everyone.
Like any therapeutic approach, ABA has its pros and cons.
ABA Without Autism Diagnosis
You may be wondering, who is ABA therapy for? It is important to note that ABA therapy is a versatile approach and can be used with concerns across the behavioral spectrum. ABA techniques have been employed to address issues like ADHD, anxiety, and even behavioral challenges in developing children.
Other common diagnoses that ABA can work with are, Intellectual Disability, Down Syndrome, and Developmental delays.
The Broad Application of ABA Therapy
Beyond individual therapy, ABA principles can be applied in diverse settings. In school, an ABA therapist uses techniques to promote a positive learning environment, teaching academic and adaptive skills, and managing classroom behavior.
In businesses, ABA principles can also impact organizational coaching and improve employee performance, teamwork, and communication.
Driving Force Behind ABA
Driving the success of ABA therapy are dedicated and empathetic professionals. Like any other therapeutic modality, you must have appropriate credentials to provide ABA therapy. To fully equip yourself with the tools, you might want to consider one of the following certifications:
- Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
- Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA), or
- Registered Behavior Technician (RBT).
You should look out for the eligibility criteria of your state, before making the decision to begin delivering therapy.
Busting Myths Surrounding ABA Therapy
It is typical for practitioners and clients to have questions around ABA. At the same time, you must navigate through a sea of myths when considering ABA therapy. Here are some common myths about ABA:
- “ABA can cure Autism”: ABA doesn’t aim to “cure” children with autism, but rather enhance their agency and reduce challenging behaviors.
- “All ABA is the same”: ABA therapy fits the individual. It’s adapted to the needs, preferences, and strengths of the individual.
- “ABA is just table work”: While some ABA techniques involve structured learning, ABA is fun and uses the child’s natural environment. It is about learning through fun activities and reinforcement.
- “ABA is only for children with autism”: ABA therapy can be used in a variety of settings and ways to assist children with various conditions. It can help to improve their social skills, play skills, and so much more!
Further Insights on ABA Therapy
ABA is an evidence-based approach focused on an individual’s functionality. Research underscores the potency of early intervention, but it can be used across the lifespan, from children to the elderly.
The field of ABA is constantly evolving with increased research and training. With a focus on comprehensive psychological assessment, your child will learn not to eliminate unhelpful behaviors, but also replace them with positive ones.
Collaborating with ABA Therapists
We are now moving towards integrated forms of treatment. Effective ABA therapy isn’t an individual effort. A tight knit collaboration between therapists, families, teachers, and other professionals enhances the chances of success.
This connection allows consistency, feedback, and monitoring of the treatment. One of the best ways to check if your program is working is to create feedback forms, which can be easily made in the Quenza app. You can also use the forms on Quenza, to gather feedback from your clients as shown below:
ABA therapy has become a powerhouse of evidence-based interventions that allow an individual to learn what they could not before. Not everyone can learn in their natural environments, but everyone deserves a chance at more fulfilling and independent lives.
ABA therapy has emerged as a beacon of hope for many. With its scientific principles and strong research backing, it can be truly transformational.
To help you with your ABA practice, it is essential that you have a multi-functional app, like the Quenza app handy.
To try it out, sign up for a one-month full access trial of the Quenza app for only $1.
- ^ Gitimoghaddam, M., Chichkine, N., McArthur, L. H., Sangha, S., & Symington, V. (2022). Applied Behavior Analysis in Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Scoping Review. Perspectives on Behavior Science, 45(3), 521–557. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40614-022-00338-x.
- ^ Wilkenfeld, D. A., & McCarthy, A. M. (2020). Ethical Concerns with Applied Behavior Analysis for Autism Spectrum “Disorder.” Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, 30(1), 31–69. https://doi.org/10.1353/ken.2020.0000.
- ^ Leonardi, J. L., & Rubano, D. R. (2012). Empirical Foundations of Applied Behavior Analysis for the Treatment of Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Perspectivas em análise do comportamento, 3(1), 01-19.
- ^ Remington, B. (1998). Applied behaviour analysis and intellectual disability: A long-term relationship? Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability, 23(2), 121–135. https://doi.org/10.1080/13668259800033631.
- ^ Shook, G. L., & Favell, J. E. (2008). The Behavior Analyst Certification Board and the profession of Behavior analysis. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 1(1), 44–48. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf03391720.
- ^ Ivy, J. W., & Schreck, K. A. (2016). The Efficacy of ABA for Individuals with Autism Across the Lifespan. Current Developmental Disorders Reports, 3(1), 57–66. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40474-016-0070-1.