Table of contents
When your child us first diagnosed with autism, deciding what to do next can be overwhelming. As a parent, you want the best for your child, but it can be hard to know what that looks like. Parents often hear the term “ABA” or “ABA Therapy” being thrown around, but are left confused and lost to what that means. We’re here to help answer all of your questions about ABA therapy, and to make your transition into this new world as easy as possible!
What is ABA?
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is the primary therapy that is used and approved by insurances to provide treatment for children and adolescents who require behavior modification and social skills instruction.
ABA uses positive reinforcement to increase positive and appropriate behaviors while reducing or eliminating the behaviors that are hindering quality of life due to deficits in communication, social skills, or inappropriate displays of behavior.
What Age Can You Start ABA Therapy?
Children as young as two years of age can begin ABA therapy. Children who are younger than two are sometimes undiagnosed and sometimes simply too young to endure a lengthy session with a therapist. Toddlers are more accepting of ABA sessions because they enjoy the “playtime” element with their therapist when they visit.
Having said that, there is no true limit with regard to a client being too young or too old for ABA therapy. The decision to seek ABA services is a personal decision and most parents and caregivers know when the time is right to start services with their child who has autism.
Getting Started with ABA Services
When you decide to employ an ABA agency for treatment of your child with autism, there are several steps to beginning services.
For starters, you will have an initial consultation with a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) who will complete all of the initial interviewing and evaluation of your child. Once your child’s needs have been assessed, the BCBA creates a treatment plan and pairs your family up with a registered behavior technician who is responsible for administering the customized treatment plan with your child.
The registered behavior technician (RBT) is supervised by the BCBA on a regular rotation so that the BCBA can monitor accurate delivery of the treatment program, add or subtract behavior goals from the treatment plan, check for data accuracy, and the BCBA makes sure that the match between the family and the RBT is conducive to the overall success of the treatment plan.
Can I Do ABA Therapy at Home?
ABA therapy is usually done on a weekly basis at a client’s home, school, or in a clinical setting. The clinical settings are usually the home office for the ABA agency where many of these agencies also provide social skills training on site in the form of a “kids club” or “skills group”.
ABA is most commonly implemented in the client’s home because of the number of hours that is required to see real progress with behavior modification. Children with autism are often approved for 20 to 40 hours of ABA treatment services per week. It usually comes out to an average of 5 or 6 sessions weekly, and each session is usually 3-4 hours.
Some children have services at school and another session at home in the afternoons. Others who require fewer hours may only participate in an after school clinical session throughout the week. Each child with autism varies in their level of need depending on the severity of their symptoms.
Are Parents Involved in ABA Therapy?
Parents are one of the most important elements in the successful outcome of ABA treatment. ABA is a method of teaching and modifying behaviors that should be continuous and always evolving as a child grows and behaviors shift.
Without parent involvement, ABA therapists can make some progress with a child who has autism, but when the therapist leaves it is the parent or caregiver that carries out and reinforces the new skills that the child has acquired. Parent involvement in ABA therapy helps ensure the skills the therapist teaches become a habit.
If a parent fails to reinforce these newly learned skills and encourage the child as they make progress, then the child simply learns how to respond appropriately with the therapist and not necessarily respond appropriately with other people in other settings.
A child’s ability to use appropriate social, behavioral, and communication in various settings and with other people outside of the home or therapy sessions is referred to as generalization. Generalization is a true measure for success when teaching appropriate behavior and eliminating inappropriate behaviors.
True success can be seen in a child with autism when communication, social skills, and appropriate behavior start to become automatic in a variety of settings.
How Do I Find an ABA Therapy Agency Near Me?
There are ABA services in just about every state in the United States, and the field is continually expanding worldwide.
The best place to begin is with your pediatrician. Ask your child’s doctor if they can refer you to a reputable agency in your area.
Another good resource is the organization Autism Speaks. Autism Speaks has a directory with a list of resources for finding ABA service providers.
You can also check with your local health and human services department for ABA providers.
If you or your family live in the New Jersey area, Circle Care Services is your best option for ABA therapy services. Circle Care has highly qualified staff available to help you and your family get ABA services started right away for your child with autism.
We have an early childhood ABA program for toddlers, social skills groups, as well as private at home services. We provide parent training for all our families for lasting progress.
We can’t wait to hear from you!