If you have done any research about ABA therapy for autism, you’ve probably come across references to studies that say ABA therapy is the most effective treatment you can choose for your child. Here’s why that is true.

ABA therapy is objective, evidence-based, and measurable. It is also flexible and personalized to the unique needs of your child and family. Based on the science of human behavior, ABA therapy focuses on targeting positive behavior change. This makes it a perfect fit for many children with autism because the target behaviors can be broken down into observable, measurable steps. As your child masters each step, the therapist will record progress and use those observations to adjust the plan over time.

ABA therapy isn’t a quick fix, but it does have a proven track record of helping children improve their quality of life and independence over time.

Why ABA Therapy For Autism Is So Successful
In a nutshell, ABA therapy uses reinforcement to build skills, encourage positive behaviors, and decrease negative behaviors. While results aren’t immediate, they can be measured and observed.

Children who participate in ongoing ABA therapy show marked improvements in cognitive, social, language, and behavioral skills as compared with other types of therapy. These improvements cover a broad range of behaviors, including:

  • Better communication
  • Improved social interactions
  • Enhanced academic ability
  • Improvements in self-care and hygiene
  • Enriched quality of life and independence

Because ABA therapy can be adapted to the needs of each individual child, therapists can target skills that will make a difference in the child’s ability to function in their day-to-day environment. This leads to better quality of life for the child and their family, as well as an increase in confidence in less familiar environments.

How ABA Therapy Helps Your Child
Because ABA therapy is targeted to the specific needs of your child, no two treatment plans will look the same. However, there are several different subspecialties within the broader umbrella of ABA therapy that target different areas of growth based on your child’s age, abilities, and needs. Each approach is adaptable to your child and uses reinforcement to build skills that can be transferred to a variety of settings.

  • Early Start Denver Model – This model is designed for children between the ages of 1 and 4. It is a play-based approach that seeks to develop social and learning pathways in the brain.
  • Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention – In this model, children ages 5 or younger participate in highly structured one-on-one sessions where skills are broken down into individual components that can be mastered one at a time.
  • Pivotal Response Treatment – Pivotal response treatment works with older children to develop skills in key developmental areas such as communication, social interaction, and self-management. Sessions often take place in a home setting.
  • Verbal Behavior Intervention – This therapy approach teaches children to use words rather than gestures or non-verbal communication to achieve desired outcomes.
  • Discrete Trial Training – DTT teaches children to develop new skills by breaking them down into small, discrete steps. Positive behaviors are rewarded and negative behaviors are ignored.

All of these approaches use proven ABA therapy techniques to help children with autism build skills and diminish negative behaviors. The differences lie in how therapy is approached, when and where intervention takes place, and what the unique goals of therapy are.

ABA Therapy for Autism: Taking Your Next Step
If you are considering ABA therapy for your child, the next step is to determine which therapist is the right fit for your family. Take some time to evaluate ABA providers in your area, consider your child’s needs, and think through the kinds of support that would be most helpful for parents, caregivers, and other family members. Remember that ABA therapy is a long-term endeavor. Results may not be immediate, but over time you will see significant progress in your child’s skill development, behavior, and quality of life.