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We all know that Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy comes with a host of benefits. In addition to improving language and communication skills, ABA therapy decreases undesired behaviors and improves attention, focus, and memory, as well as many other skills.
But what about academic performance? Do children with autism spectrum disorder perform better academically when they receive ABA therapy?
The answer is yes, and there are many reasons why or ways that ABA therapy improves academic and educational achievement. These reasons include its reinforcement strategies, its elevation of positive behaviors and reduction of undesired behaviors, its emphasis on enhancing focus and motivation, and its attention to socialization and the development of social skills.
ABA Therapy Methods That Improve Behavior
Use of reinforcement strategies
One of the best-known methods used in ABA therapy is positive reinforcement, which involves rewarding a child after they’ve completed a desirable, or positive, behavior. Positive reinforcement is a key component of ABA because it drives the skills and results that are most important for your child’s success, including their academic success.
Is your child with autism already getting ABA therapy? If so, you can build on it by using effective reinforcement strategies when you’re at home. And, if your child is attending private or public school, you should let their teachers know that positive reinforcement is key to their wellbeing. Classes with reward systems and rules for everyone to follow are most effective.
Since ABA uses some of the best ways to reinforce desirable behaviors, you and your child’s teachers can use these strategies to improve academic productivity. Some tried-and-tested reinforcers for academic achievement include:
- Verbal praise
- Free time
- Favorite foods or special treats
- Specific activities like going to the park, watching a movie, etc.
If done properly, reinforcing your child’s positive behaviors can improve your child’s academic performance by helping them develop all the positive, productive behaviors associated with school and academics.
Elevation of positive behaviors
It’s not uncommon for children with autism to demonstrate behaviors like fidgeting, stimming (repetitive body movement or noises), aggression, and ignoring their peers and teachers, which can get in the way of their ability to succeed in a traditional academic environment, such as a public school classroom. Fortunately, ABA can address the root cause of those behaviors, and, as a result, it can serve as an outstanding supplement to your child’s academic program.
When combined with plenty of practice at home, ABA therapy can function as a tool to boost your child’s positive behaviors that will help them in their day-to-day life.
If they’re receiving ABA therapy, it’s essential that you communicate with their Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) so they, too, can work on the behaviors that create challenges for your child in and out of the classroom.
Emphasis on motivation and focus
The structured environment that ABA therapy provides outside of school allows your child to focus on the things that are most essential to their success. And, when they’re in a center-based environment, they can receive an individualized treatment plan that helps them develop important academic qualities, like focus and motivation.
While focus helps your child sustain their attention and effort when completing academic work, motivation energizes them and directs their behavior toward academic achievement. That’s why focus and motivation are extremely important in school. And, thankfully, ABA therapy is equipped with the resources needed to help your child develop these skills and put your child on the right track in school.
Attention to socialization
Because most traditional classrooms involve interacting with fellow students, as well as the teacher, as part of the learning process, possessing social skills is very important. Many children with autism, unlike most neurotypical (non-autistic) children, struggle with social activities, such as taking turns, initiating conversation, and reading other people’s non-verbal cues, and they need special training so they can interact with other people in a positive way.
The good news is that ABA therapy incorporates social skills training so your child can develop and hone their social skills.
Here are some of the areas that ABA therapy focuses on when conducting social skills training:
Conversation training involves practicing different exchanges with peers and staying on topic (when it’s a preferred topic). Your child will also learn how to take turns when having conversations, as well as how to initiate conversation. Other skills your child will learn are how to determine when another person isn’t interested in having a conversation, when to avoid certain topics, and how to change the topic.
Body language, which includes eye contact, facial expressions, and gestures, is a very important part of communication. ABA therapy will teach your child how to use their own body language as well as read other people’s body language.
This involves your child playing near or alongside other children. In parallel play training, your child will learn how to approach their peers, request to play with them, and share their toys.
Your child will learn a host of skills when learning how to play games. These skills include taking turns, showing good sportsmanship, communicating with other players while playing games, and winning and losing appropriately.
Improving their social skills, especially skills associated with conversation, body language, and play will go a long way in helping your child achieve academic success. That’s why ABA therapy, which teaches these skills in addition to many other skills, is an excellent way to boost your child’s academic performance.
It’s a well-known fact that ABA therapy comes with a plethora of advantages. But one commonly asked question is whether ABA therapy improves academic performance in children. The answer is a resounding yes, which shouldn’t be surprising.
After all, ABA therapy uses reinforcement strategies that drive results and the development of skills and positive behaviors. It also elevates positive behaviors while reducing or eliminating undesired behaviors. Lastly, this type of therapy emphasizes focus, motivation, and socialization, skills that are key to strong academic performance. These are all skills that, when harnessed by your child, propels them to higher academic achievement.
If you’re interested in helping your child with autism and improving their academic performance and overall quality of life, contact Circle Care Services.
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