What Is

ABA Therapy?

If your child was recently diagnosed with autism, you may be wondering what to do next. There is no doubt you have spent countless hours googling “autism therapy” in hopes of finding the best options to help your little one. Hundreds, if not thousands of websites may lead you in different directions and it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. Finally, you start to read about evidence-based therapy and know you are on the right track. ABA therapy is, no doubt, listed at the top of those treatment options supported by decades of research.

So, what is ABA therapy?

If your child was recently diagnosed with autism, you may be wondering what to do next. There is no doubt you have spent countless hours googling “autism therapy” in hopes of finding the best options to help your little one. Hundreds, if not thousands of websites may lead you in different directions and it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. Finally, you start to read about evidence-based therapy and know you are on the right track. ABA therapy is, no doubt, listed at the top of those treatment options supported by decades of research.

So, what is ABA therapy?

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is recognized by the Academy of Pediatrics and Surgeon General as the most effective treatment available for individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis. Developed from the science of learning, ABA programs are individualized and target the development of a wide range of skills, focusing on improving the lives of individuals and their families in meaningful ways.

With more information may come more questions, such as: What are the components of ABA therapy? In what ways can it help my child? Who are the therapists that provide ABA services?  What does therapy look like? As we discuss ABA further, it will help to break down the name.

“Applied”

Let’s start with “applied”. This means that we are applying the science of behavior analysis to make “socially significant” changes in your child’s life. Targeting “socially significant” changes means ABA focuses on the most important behaviors and skills for your child given their unique needs and circumstances.

“Behavior”

The next part of applied behavior analysis that you may want to understand is “behavior”. Behavior is anything an individual does, including how they communicate. This broad definition of behavior means that your child’s ABA program will likely address a wide variety of different needs. During therapy, some behaviors will be increased – these are the behaviors we desire, such as functional play, communicating wants and needs, successful toileting, or appropriate social skills. Other behaviors will be a focus for decrease such as screaming, kicking, hitting, or biting. It is the job of your ABA team to work with you to identify the goals for treatment based on what is most socially significant and meaningful for your child and your family.

“Analysis”

So, now that we know that ABA therapy can focus on a variety of behaviors, how do we decide where to start? Every treatment decision made by your ABA team is data-based and intentional. Throughout treatment, your child’s progress toward his or her individualized goals is tracked and documented methodically and analyzed regularly. This is the “analysis” part of applied behavior analysis. To begin, a thorough treatment plan is written based on an initial assessment. This ABA treatment plan will review your child’s developmental history, current level of need, and areas of strength. The plan will also outline goals for each behavior we wish to change. Don’t forget, this means behaviors we want to decrease and increase. Throughout therapy, this treatment plan is revised based on your child’s progress and ongoing need.

Your Child’s Care Team

You may now have questions about the individuals that will make up your child’s ABA team. Your team will include you and other caregivers, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs). Our autism therapists each have a level of education and experience that meets Mosaic’s high standards and receive ongoing training to stay abreast of the latest developments in the science of ABA. Your involvement and input are critical to the success of your child’s ABA program and we’ll communicate with you frequently both through regular informal touchpoints as well as structured trainings to keep you updated on your child’s program and to teach you strategies to work with your child at home.

ABA therapy is unique relative to many other forms of therapy in that it can be provided in multiple locations, including your home, a community setting, as well as in specialized clinics. To learn more about Mosaic’s clinic-focused ABA treatment model, click here.