Applied Behavioral Analysis and Autism Treatment
Applied behavioral analysis is used as an autism treatment in order to help shape and motivate appropriate behaviors and social interactions. Children with autism often have difficulty learning from their environments and the people around them. ABA is an objective way to break down tasks that others can pick up simply by observation. This combined with proper rewards and motivation allows a child with autism to get immediate feedback on whether or not his or her actions were appropriate.
This autism treatment starts off with a simple stimulus paired with an action and then can become more complex as it is required. Everything in applied behavioral analysis is defined, measurable and observable. Therefore, the resulting action of the student will not be dependent on the teacher but the environment and situation.
ABA can be used to teach in a variety of settings, although it is usually beneficial to start off with a simpler environment and then move to more complex areas. The different benefits range from extinguishing unwanted behaviors to introducing new behaviors. The ultimate goal and benefit for each individual with autism is for them to achieve the highest quality of life possible.
Decreasing Unwanted Behaviors
Often times students with autism or pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) will exhibit behaviors that can be dangerous to themselves and others or just socially unacceptable. Because of this it will be necessary to find a way to discourage or replace those behaviors with something that will not cause them to be stigmatized and unable to interact with others. Applied behavioral analysis is a successful way to reduce these unwanted behaviors.
Increasing Desired Behaviors
Through applied behavioral analysis it becomes possible to reward and thereby increase desired behaviors. This can be in the realm of independence or social interaction. ABA allows people with autism to use already known behaviors in multiple situations and settings. For example, if a child with autism who becomes agitated and aggressive is able to avoid those behaviors by requesting a break in the classroom, they will be encouraged to do the same thing while in the community or at home.
Teaching New Skills
By shaping and encouraging response to a specific stimulus, a benefit of applied behavioral analysis is the acquisition of new skills. Using this autism treatment, it becomes possible to teach almost anything. Complicated tasks are broken down into multiple steps that are built upon to get a final result.
The levels of difficulty will be adjusted based on the response of the person with autism, making it an individualized teaching method that focuses on learning at the rate that they are capable of.
Generalizing and Maintaining Behaviors
Once new skills are learned it is not only important for the person with autism to maintain them, but to use them in multiple natural settings. Applied behavioral analysis allows this by using the same technique in a variety of settings. For example, a student with autism who is taught to answer “yes” or “no” questions when asked can be taught the same skill while shopping in the grocery store and being asked to make a choice.
www.centerforautism.com: What is ABA?
www.autismspeaks.org: Treatments for Autism