ABA treatment of autism is often recommended to families as the best therapy approach because it is evidence-based and it provides objective measures of progress. But what does that really mean in terms of outcomes for your child? Will ABA therapy make a meaningful difference in your child’s life?
Autism affects your whole family, and that means you need a therapy approach that will provide hope and help, not just statistics. The good news is that ABA therapy can do both.
Why ABA Treatment of Autism Is Considered the Gold Standard
ABA therapy takes a systematic, step-by-step approach to helping children with autism learn skills in the context of everyday life. It is highly adaptable and can be tailored to the individual needs of each child. It can also integrate with your child’s and family’s daily routines, providing support in a variety of contexts including a clinic, your home, and your child’s school or other places in the community. ABA treatment of autism uses reinforcement to teach children how to replace less desirable behaviors with more desirable ones, as well as helping learn important skills to promote independence.
This approach is considered the gold standard because it is measurably effective, it focuses on real-life scenarios and skills, and it breaks behaviors down into small, discrete steps that can be mastered incrementally. Because each treatment plan is individualized, parents and caregivers can collaborate with their clinical team to identify areas of growth that will make a tangible difference in the child’s quality of life while also providing support and hope for the whole family.
All of that sounds great, right? But what about success rates? Does ABA therapy really hold up under scrutiny?
What Research Says About ABA Therapy Success Rates
The great thing about ABA therapy’s scientific, measurable process is that it can be studied systematically to determine how well it works. A number of scientific studies have done just that, with excellent results.
Here’s what the research shows:
- Children show improvements in cognitive ability, social skills, language, and more after receiving ABA therapy. A 2011 review published in the journal ” Current Opinion in Pediatrics” looked at 27 peer-reviewed studies and found that behavioral interventions produced improvements in all of these areas, as well as a reduction in anxiety and aggression for children on the autism spectrum.
- Children are able to participate in education more effectively with ABA therapy. A 2006 study on Early Intensive Behavioral Treatment published in the Journal of Developmental Pediatrics found that children who received 35-40 hours of ABA therapy per week were more likely to be fully included in regular education classrooms either with or without support.
- ABA therapy meets technical standards for efficacy for non-medical interventions. A technical expert panel considering non-medical interventions for autism concluded that children benefit from at least 25 hours per week of ABA therapy to address social skills, adaptive behaviors, language, and play skills.
- ABA therapy is a well-established, effective treatment approach for children with autism. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who receive early intervention in the form of ABA therapy show sustained improvement in IQ scores, academic performance, language development, and more.
How to Increase the Odds of Success for Your Child
The studies above and others like them clearly demonstrate that ABA therapy is effective in delivering long-term improvements across a range of skills and behaviors. They also share several common threads that contribute to higher rates of success:
- Early Intervention – Research shows that the earlier you can begin therapy for your child, the more gains you will see. This is because young children are still developing, and intervention can help create pathways in the brain that support desired behaviors.
- Consistent Treatment – Many studies of ABA therapy conclude that the best results occur when a child receives consistent therapy each week. Therapists often work with children in the classroom at school or in their home environment to help practice desired skills, redirect behaviors when necessary, and offer support.
- Parental Involvement – If you are wondering whether your efforts to find the right therapy approach for your child make a difference, rest assured that they do. Research supports that parents who advocate for early interventions and participate in their child’s treatment can make a significant difference in outcomes.
The bottom line is this: There is hope and there is help! ABA therapy has a long history of effective treatment for children on the autism spectrum, and you as the parent can increase that effectiveness by advocating for early intervention.
As you continue to invest in finding the right treatment for your child, ABA therapy provides the support you need to help your child grow, learn, and succeed.