There are several options when deciding which intervention is right for a child with autism. One of the most frequently chosen treatments is Applied Behavior Analysis due to the effectiveness it has on on learning, communication, and social skills in young children with autism.
There are also other benefits of ABA therapy. Mary Beth Walsh writes about “The Top 10 Reasons Children with Autism Deserve ABA” through the lenses of a mother of a son with autism.
After experiencing how ABA helped her son, Mary Walsh gives parents the following reasons to choose this form of intervention:
Reason 10: Children with autism deserve ABA because there is more scientific evidence demonstrating ABA “works” than there is for any other intervention or treatment.
The Report of the MADSEC Autism Task Force states that several thousand studies documenting the effectiveness of Applied Behavioral Analysis have been published over the past 30 years. This widely accepted intervention is meant to help children with autism in 6 different ways: to increase positive behaviors, teach new skills, maintain positive behaviors, generalize (the ability to transfer learning from one situation to another), restrict conditions in which negative behaviors occur, and reduce negative behaviors.
Reason 9: Children with autism deserve ABA because they are human.
Several decades ago, society viewed people with autism as helpless. Today we know that they are far from incapable. Children with autism have feelings, ideas, and interests. They deserve any opportunity that helps them succeed and reach their full potential.
Reason 8: Children with autism deserve ABA because it will help their parents be the best parents they can for them.
While their children receive therapy, parents also learn ways to help them adapt and grow. This is done through generalization. ABA therapists teach children the necessary social and life skills and then generalize the behavior so that it transfers to the parents. For example, a child with autism may not like the sensation of solid foods. Working with an ABA therapist, the child is slowly introduced to different solid foods and can tolerate them. The parents are then taught these steps by the ABA therapist so that they can include it in their everyday routine. Now they have the tools to help their child learn a critical life skill.
Reason 7: Children with autism deserve ABA because it will help teach them how to sleep through the night and use the bathroom:
Mary Beth Walsh describes her personal experience with this reason. She and ABA therapists collected an abundance of data which helped her son slowly learn how to use the restroom and avoid accidents at night. It took a lot of time and teamwork but now her son is proud and feels more independent.
Reason 6: Individuals with autism deserve ABA because it is the best defense against the tyranny of low expectations.
People with autism need to be given the confidence and independence that is critical to succeed in life. Having autism should not mean a child will accomplish less than the average person. In fact, studies show that some children involved in an early intensive intervention for one or more years need little to no additional support in a regular classroom.
Reason 5: Children with autism deserve ABA because it can teach them the skills necessary to make friends.
Social skills can be very challenging for individuals on the autism spectrum to acquire. I have personally worked as an ABA Line Therapist with a young boy who could only respond to questions with the sound “Dee”. After several years of therapy, you would not be able to point him out amongst average children his age. He learned to speak, express his feelings, and play with other children. It was an amazing transformation that finally gave him his voice.
Reason 4: Individuals with autism deserve ABA because it enables their parents and teachers to capitalize on their strengths and preferences.
ABA can teach parents and teachers how to motivate children and use their preferences to their advantage. For example, a child may be rigid about an alphabet puzzle always being done from A to Z instead of skipping around. The child also does not like to brush his teeth before bed. Utilizing ABA therapy, you can reinforce the behavior of brushing teeth by allowing the child to place one letter at a time in the desired order over the time it takes to finish the task.
Reason 3: Children with autism deserve ABA because it can teach parents how to respond in the moment.
There are many moments as a parent that require a quick response without much time to react. This is especially true for parents of children with autism. Even with an intensive intervention program of 40 hours per week, parents still spend more time with their child than therapist. Knowing how to implement ABA techniques used in a child’s therapy can help a parent capitalize on any learning opportunity that arises daily.
Reason 2: Children with autism deserve ABA because someday their parents are going to die.
Just like anyone else, children with autism need to learn the life skills necessary to carry on after the death of their parents. It is an unpleasant, but necessary truth to realize. Parents want what is best for their children and in this case, that is to give them the tools they need to form relationships, express themselves, and hold a job.
Reason 1: Individuals with autism deserve ABA because it can prepare them to be their own best advocates.
Mary Walsh concludes her list with this important and powerful explanation: “Every child deserves this chance to show others all that he or she is capable of; every child deserves to learn all he can learn; every child with autism deserves effective, behavioral intervention, and it is up to us parents to make sure our children with autism get what they deserve.”
About the Author
Amber Tanski is a Content Marketing Specialist for DrOmnibus, a company creating ABA DrOmnibus – Resources App – All in one tool with a direct focus on resources for therapy, including baseline assessment, in-built and personalized ABA programs, graphs and video modeling. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, Amber has worked with a diverse population through her job as a Line Therapist for young children with Autism, being a Personal Trainer for a girl with Asperger’s Syndrome and working as a Personal Care Assistant for a woman with Muscular Dystrophy. She currently develops content for DrOmnibus utilizing her unique experience.
Autism Speaks. (2012, July 25). Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Retrieved from https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/treatment/applied-behavior-analysis-aba.
Report of the MADSEC Autism Task Force(Rep.). (2000, February). Retrieved https://www.autism-watch.org/reports/madsec.pdf.
Walsh, M. B. (2011). The Top 10 Reasons Children With Autism Deserve ABA. Behavior Analysis in Practice,4(1), 72-79. doi:10.1007/bf03391777.