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If your child with autism spectrum disorder experiences difficulty in social situations, e.g., having conversations and reading facial expressions, they might be a good fit for Applied Behavior Analysis, which is widely known as ABA therapy.
But what exactly is ABA therapy, and how can it help your child? In a nutshell, ABA focuses on developing the behaviors and skills needed to live and thrive in our society.
Its behavioral interventions work by applying our understanding of behavior to real-life situations. And what’s the ultimate goal of ABA? The goal is to increase positive behaviors in children, like using manners, while decreasing problematic behaviors, such as aggression.
You may be wondering what behaviors and skills ABA therapy can help your child with. The good news is that there are several. And if your child develops in these specific areas, they’ll be well on their way to living a happier, more meaningful, and more fulfilling life.
So, without further ado, here are 5 behaviors and skills that can be helped with ABA therapy.
1. Communication and social skills
Children with autism,, especially children on the lower spectrum often greatly struggle in social situations. Behaviors like communicating their needs and desires, following instructions from adults and authority figures, waiting patiently and quietly, and keeping disruptive behavior at bay are some of the things that children with autism commonly experience difficulty with.
Thankfully, ABA therapy, which emphasizes developing social skills for children with autism, is effective at improving a wide array of skills related to social interactions.
Although social skills come more easily for neurotypical children, they need to be systematically taught to children with autism. And that’s what ABA therapy is largely about.
2. Focus and academic performance
ABA is known to improve children’s academic performance by improving their memory, focus, and even IQ. In fact, ABA has proven that it can improve performance for all types of students, not just students with autism and other developmental disorders.
This type of therapy has demonstrated so much effectiveness at supporting and improving school performance that it has been heavily incorporated into everyday educational procedures. We can see that ABA and other behavioral therapies are having more and more of an impact on the practice of education – and, of course, there’s good reason for that.
Whether your child is on the lower spectrum of autism, or a neurotypical individual who doesn’t experience many academic challenges, ABA is sure to help them become better students and more balanced individuals.
3. Motor skills
For children who experience challenges with motor skills, which are skills related to movement and the coordination of muscles, ABA can be an excellent intervention.
There are two main types of motor skills:
Fine motor skills
If you can easily make controlled movements using the small muscles in your wrists and hands, you probably have good fine motor skills. Often, children with autism have a difficult time with fine motor skills, a challenge that can impede their academic progress. If they can’t properly hold a pencil or pen or use scissors and other tools, they’ll likely struggle in school. Other tasks that require fine motor skills include brushing teeth, washing hands, and getting dressed.
Gross motor skills
Bigger movements, such as jumping and running, are what we call gross motor skills. Without these skills, children with autism may struggle with basic actions, such as sitting, standing, lifting, walking, and jumping. Having problems in these areas can lead to low levels of confidence and the avoidance of social interactions.
With ABA therapy, your child can develop fine and gross motor skills, which will help them physically navigate the world around them.
Although developing motor skills can be incredibly challenging, ABA uses a gradual, step-by-step approach that ensures your child will improve in the long run.
Hygiene is important for a number of reasons. First, it’s hard to develop meaningful social relationships when you don’t practice good personal hygiene. Secondly, good hygiene is a great way to protect yourself from infectious diseases such as colds, the flu, and even COVID-19. While there are many ways to cope with COVID-19 and other illnesses when you have a special needs child, mainitaining proper hygiene is the first step.
By teaching children with autism how to independently perform everyday self-help tasks like brushing their teeth, washing their hands, and taking a shower, ABA therapy improves hygiene skills and, by doing this, puts them on a better long-term health trajectory.
5. Job competence
When people think of autism, they often think of children. But autism doesn’t only affect children. It can be found in people of all ages, and although some children with autism “outgrow” their diagnosis as they get older, others grow up to be adults with autism.
And autistic adults, like neurotypical adults, need to make a living by working. Because ABA improves their social and communication skills, motor skills, memory, and focus, it makes them more attractive job candidates to employers and also makes them higher-performing workers.
Just like non-autistic people, people with autism have to compete for positions, but they’re often at a major disadvantage. Thanks to ABA therapy, they can make themselves more appealing candidates and perform just as well as, if not better than, their neurotypical counterparts.
It’s easy to see now that ABA therapy comes with a wealth of benefits for individuals with autism. This form of therapy, which increases positive behaviors while decreasing negative ones, is effective at helping autistic individuals navigate the world they live in.
It helps with a host of behaviors and skills, including communication and social skills, focus and academic performance, motor skills, personal hygiene, and on-the-job competence.
Because ABA is so helpful, it’s increasingly being used to help all kinds of people, not just people with autism, in many kinds of environments. For example, it’s being incorporated more and more into the education practice because people are becoming more aware of its various benefits.
If you have a child with autism and want to take their life to the next level, you should strongly consider ABA therapy. If you’re interested, sign up to join Circle Care’s email list! We send out tips, tricks, and helpful information about ABA and parenting with children with autism.