We specialize in behavioral consulting and therapy services. Our goal is to provide highly effective treatment for children with autism and their families by following a method scientifically proven to bring clear results. We use Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), a method based on extensive, clinical peer reviewed research. We have been helping families since 2001.
ABA just uses food and toys to bribe kids into doing things / ABA gets kids hooked on edible rewards.
One of the most misunderstood concepts of ABA is the value and importance of reinforcement. ABA is a reinforcement based science. We understand that, in life, the things we do that are followed by positive changes in our environment are most often the things we choose to do again. This “success leading to repetition” is what creates our behavior patterns and ultimately helps us to determine the kind of people we are to become. The fact that reinforcement is defined as occurring after a behavior shows that the terms “Bribe” and “Reinforcement” are not synonymous. Bribes involve saying to someone, “If you do this, I will give you this.” Bribes are dependent on a negotiation before the behavior occurs. Since reinforcement occurs only after a behavior is completed, they are not one in the same. In fact, most ABA programs teach that the use of “If, Then,” statements are often contrary to good teaching. Additionally, there is nothing in the definition of reinforcement that dictates what reinforcement is or can be. It only dictates when reinforcement occurs and what it does for a behavior. The actual stimulus that serves as reinforcement should not and cannot be determined by the ABA program developer. Instead, reinforcement is always determined by what actually does increase future behavior.
In general, some forms of food, accessibility of items, physical or mental stimulation, attention, and praise act as the reinforcement for most everything we do. We eat because it tastes good and/or to nourish our bodies, read books because it stimulates our brains in positive ways and tend to be nice to others because it gives us some combination of attention, praise and self-satisfaction. The same is true for children with autism but to differing degrees. Depending on the child, it is quite possible that none of these higher-level stimuli support behavior change. That leaves us with only lower level items to work with at the start of a program. Food, physical play, music, videos, and toys are often good early reinforcers that help a child learn important new skills. But, as important as it is to identify what currently works as reinforcement for a child, it is just as important to increase the amount and level of reinforcement that is meaningful to the child.
Another critical component of a good ABA program is the move to work from lower level reinforcers such as food to higher level reinforcers such as praise over time, and to reduce the frequency at which the child is being reinforced.
Skills only “work” at the table, with the therapist.
If skills are only taught in one place with one person in one way, yes, that is how they are likely to be exhibited. However, as stated above, a good ABA program incorporates generalization components from an early stage to prevent just this aspect. The entire goal of the program is “learning to learn,” meaning that the child will not only be able to demonstrate learned skills in any environment with any person, they will also be able to LEARN new skills in other environments, from other people.
ABA is an experimental treatment and not scientifically demonstrated to be effective.
This about as far from the truth as you can get. Of all the forms of therapy and education that are available for children with autism, ABA is the program that has the most scientific positive data and support for its principles, techniques and overall effectiveness. There are at least a dozen professional journals that are dedicated to the science of ABA, Autism intervention and intellectual disabilities that have published thousands of individual research findings and large group studies. In fact, ABA is currently the only autism therapy recommended for long-term benefit by the United States Surgeon General. As a treatment for autism, Chapter Three of the Surgeon General’s report on Mental Health, 1999, states, “Thirty years of research demonstrated the efficacy of applied behavioral methods in reducing inappropriate behavior and in increasing communication, learning, and appropriate social behavior.”
Where does therapy take place?
Therapy can take place in the home, community, or school setting depending on what is appropriate for each child.
Who oversees my ABA program?
ABA falls under the jurisdiction of the Psychology Board, therefore a licensed psychologist or licensed psychological associate must oversee your child’s program. Just having a BCBA does not allow a person to practice Psychology. All of our consultants are both licensed psychologists (LPA) and Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA).
What does the research on ABA Therapy show?
Over the past 40 years, a number of peer-reviewed studies have been completed evaluating the effects of using a specific group of ABA techniques in a “comprehensive, individualized, intensive early intervention program for children with autism,” achieving extremely positive results. “Comprehensive” refers to the fact that intervention addressees all types of skills; “Early” means that intervention began before the age of four for most children in many of the studies; and “Intensive” referred to the number of hours / week received by the children (ranges between 25-40 hours per week).