What is Autism?
The Centers for Disease Control most recent report suggests that autism is now occurring at a rate of 1 in every 59 children (CDC 2018). Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in communication, poor social-emotional reciprocity, lack of social awareness, and a rigidity in behaviors such as vocal or motor stereotypy. The disorder is lifelong and manifests in early childhood. Some children with autism engage in problem behaviors such as physical aggression, self-injurious behavior, and elopement.The cause of autism is not clear although potential contributors include genetic factors and the environment.
What is Applied Behavior Analysis?
Applied behavior analysis has been cited in the literature as one of the most effective interventions for treating autism spectrum disorders and it has been endorsed by the U.S Surgeon General.
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) has been evaluated as an intervention method for children diagnosed with autism and other behavior disorders. Various studies indicate that ABA is an effective methodology for teaching socially significant behaviors which may increase the child’s contact with environmental reinforcement, as well as decrease behavioral challenges which impact ability to function in home, school, and community settings (Virtues-Ortega, 2012; Linstead, Dixon, Hong, Burns, & Granpeesheh, 2017). Applied behavior analysis involves a direct manipulation of environmental variables which impact the probability of a behavior, either influencing an increase or a decrease in the likelihood that the behavior will occur. These interventions include strategies such as discrete trial training (DTT), natural environment teaching (NET), positive and negative reinforcement, the matching law, behavioral momentum.
How will it help my child?
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has been evidenced to help children learn and improve a variety of skills including:
Functional Living Skills
Feeding (Food Selectivity)
Self-Stimulatory aka “stimming”…. and many others.
The purpose of the treatment is to identify the function of the behavior and identify specific indicators in the environment that can help mitigate the purpose and replace the behavior with a more functional and socially acceptable behavior that acts similarly for the child. By recognizing how the environment may be acting to increase the frequency or intensity of your child’s problem behaviors, the behavior analyst can help your family with changing variables in your routine, schedule, and other parts of the environment that may pose as triggers or that may be indirectly impacting problematic behaviors.