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Guide to Pediatric Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy

Finding the right autism spectrum disorder (ASD) support system for your child can take time, dedication and getting to know trusted therapists in your area. If you are wondering where to start researching to discover a therapy approach that helps your child thrive socially and mentally, look no further than pediatric applied behavior analysis (ABA.) ABA services mean your young one can receive the support they need in a comfortable setting to improve communication, socialization and self-care with the help of an experienced ABA therapist.

Get started on your research of ABA therapy and how it can help your child thrive!

What Is ABA Therapy?

An applied behavior analysis approach to behavioral therapy for children with autism is one of the most researched and supported methods of effectively treating symptoms of ASD. ABA therapy focuses on understanding behaviors in children with autism and teaching them how to correct specific actions from their decisions, including playing nice with others and using their words instead of demands.

ABA therapy encourages children to recognize social cues so they can thrive in a world of constant social interaction and can participate in creating meaningful relationships and conversations.

Is ABA Therapy Effective?

Children and families who see the benefits of ABA therapy firsthand can understand the effectiveness of these treatments after multiple one-on-one sessions. Since ABA is flexible and uses positive reinforcement to encourage certain behaviors in children with autism, ABA therapy is becoming the gold standard for autism treatment worldwide.

Years of research and continued studies of long-term benefits make ABA therapy a renowned practice for families everywhere.

How Does ABA Differ From Other Forms of Behavioral Therapy?

While there are several efficient approaches to behavioral therapy for children on the spectrum, ABA is one of the most notable methods available. Other forms of treatment closely base themselves on the same principles and practices of ABA with slightly different approaches based on the child’s developmental and behavioral goals.

Understanding the differences between ABA and other behavioral therapies starts with getting to know the following three ABA-based methods:

  • Early Start Denver Model (ESDM): ESDM approaches to behavioral therapy prioritizes improving communication skills in children 12 to 48 months old. While ESDM and ADA prioritize positive interactions to develop language, communication and socialization, ESDM lets the child be in charge of the activities during each session. ADA lets the therapist take action to encourage behavioral learning.
  • Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT): Similar to ABA and ESDM, PRT uses play to encourage learning how to socialize and communicate with others. PRT utilizes social interactions through play and one-on-one lessons to develop important life skills, including self-motivation and management, initiating social contact and responding to cues appropriately. ABA focuses on more refined skills such as movement, self-care and playing with others.
  • Discrete Trial Training (DTT): DTT is also ABA-based with more structure than PRT. DTT focuses on breaking down learned skills bit by bit so the child can master refined steps that develop into a larger goal. ABA focuses on being able to perform a task first before rewarding a child with positive reinforcement rather than building up the ability to complete the goal.

How Do I Know if My Child Might Benefit From ABA Therapy?

Finding the right therapy options for your child is assessing their needs and choosing a supportive therapist who can make a positive difference in their life. It can be rare for two children with autism to experience the same benefits of the same therapy type because their needs and potential goals can impact the therapy’s progress.

The most efficient way to determine if ABA therapy is the right route for your child is to meet with an experienced ABA therapist who can assess their needs and learning potential. They may suggest giving ABA a try to see the effectiveness of these sessions toward your child’s growth, or they might offer a different approach using different therapy options that could benefit their future the most.

How Do I Choose an ABA Therapist?

The right choice of an ABA therapist can benefit your child’s mental and social development and your family’s support system. Luckily, numerous board-certified behavioral analysts specialize in ASD therapies and treatments that you can choose.

Before starting ABA therapy, you and your family will have the opportunity to sit down with a therapist to ensure they are the right fit for your child’s behavioral progress. During this initial meeting, you can take advantage of this time together to get to know more about them and their experience and personality:

  • Check into their professional background.
  • Observe their personality and how they interact with your child.
  • Ask about their treatment and therapy methods.
  • Understand if they plan to involve you and your family in each session.

Don’t be afraid to ask any questions you feel comfortable with, and do as much research into their background as you desire to find an ABA therapist near you!

How Much Does ABA Therapy Cost?

The costs of ABA therapy can depend on the individual you choose as your child’s ABA therapist and how long your child remains with these practices. You can find the exact cost once you find a trusted board-certified behavioral analyst who can walk you through the price and timelines you can expect with their ABA services.

In most cases, insurance will cover ABA therapy if your child has received an autism diagnosis. Since ABA therapy has an impressive history of benefiting the behavioral approaches to ASD treatments, insurance companies typically offer financial support for therapy sessions. If you think ABA is right for your child, contact your insurance to ensure that these services can cover your child’s support.

How Can I Continue to Enforce ABA Therapy Practices at Home?

Practicing ABA therapy at home with your child can take time and patience. However, the journey to building healthy behaviors and interactions is incredibly rewarding for everyone in the family. Most ABA therapies in a clinic allow parents to participate or sit in on each session to better understand how to approach each ABA lesson.

If you are interested in doing ABA therapy from home, your child’s assigned therapist can make trips to your residence so they can enjoy sessions in familiar areas of the house. In-home therapy practices are an excellent way for your child to continue their behavioral therapy methods with family present to learn positive social interactions with each immediate family member.

Since the approach to ABA therapy is to demonstrate positive reinforcement when a child with autism can behave appropriately with others and communicate effectively, you can continue to use this reward system beyond formal sessions. It can take time and patience to master self-maintenance skills and swapping outbursts for communication. With a positive support system, you can continue to enforce ABA therapy practices at home.

What Are the Benefits of ABA Therapy?

ABA therapy continues to develop through history to provide children with autism the opportunity to learn essential communication, self-care and cognitive skills to thrive. As this behavioral method grows in supported research, the future holds a promising outlook for children and families who favor this approach to ASD treatments.

While the benefits of ABA for children’s behavior continue to evolve, current ABA benefits include the following:

  • Involving the entire family unit in therapy sessions.
  • Designed by board-certified behavior analysts.
  • Treatments include improving communication, reduction of inappropriate behaviors and socialization.
  • Individualized therapy approaches for each child.
  • Positive reinforcement and prompting.
  • Natural environment teaching.

Find ABA Therapy at BehaviorCraft

If ABA therapy sounds like the right fit for your child’s needs, you can find a positive support system at BehaviorCraft! As a part of the Kids SPOT Family of Companies, our individualized services customize treatment plans and therapy lessons to match your child’s developmental goals so they can thrive in an engaging environment. Our board-certified behavior analysts get to know your child and family through one-on-one sessions that give them the full attention they desire to see improvements in behavior efficiently.

Our coastal locations are convenient for Virginia Beach and Chesapeake Bay locals interested in getting started on ABA treatments for their loved one.

Get in touch with us today to get started!