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 is just animal training adapted for use with people.
Applied Behavior Analysis is a comprehensive understanding of why people tend to make the choices that they do. It is the application of that understanding that allows ABA consultants to help people make choices that are more effective and support happier and more successful living. The fact that some behaviorists use this understanding to help adults, to help children and to train animals does not diminish its value in supporting better choice making in children with autism. I always laugh when I hear this myth and think, “hmm, people sometimes choose to feed meat bones to their dogs. Does that mean that my New York steak with peppercorn sauce is merely dog food adapted for use with humans?”
ABA does not teach a child HOW or WHY to do something; it only trains them to behave in a certain way.
This deals with the mistaken idea that in ABA programs, children are not being taught to be independent thinkers but merely trained to react to stimuli. All learning has some aspect of rote memorization and practiced routine, whether you are in an ABA program, regular school classroom, or simply learning from your parents at home. There are always going to be things that a child is expected to do, “Just because Mom / Dad / Teacher said so.” Additionally, there will always be a behavior we choose without thinking. When discussing “training,” one is generally talking about creating habits of behavior – things we do without thinking about them. However, this fact has nothing to do with ABA but rather how all people learn. Many of our behavior choices in life are reactions and habits. When it is time to brush your teeth you do not think about each of the behaviors used to make that happen (wetting the toothbrush, squeezing the toothpaste, raising your hand to your mouth etc.). These habits have all formed the way they have because guided practice has led to success. Success then leads to repetition. It is true that ABA is very successful in breaking down seemingly simple tasks such as brushing teeth and teaching them in small steps to help a child find success where they might not otherwise. However, the premise that ABA is limited to only teaching this sort of memorized or habitual task is absolutely false.
Just like any form of teaching, a good ABA program needs to be designed to teach to all the needs of the individual. This includes concepts such as complex language, social interaction, problem solving, flexible thinking, and theory of mind (such as understanding things from other people’s perspectives). Although these skills are much more complex in nature, they are not immune to the same behavioral principles that guide all of our learning. The issue then becomes, “how creative and experienced is the person running the ABA program at addressing this sort of learning?” In the early days of ABA, there was less experience addressing these more complex learning processes. Thus, some early ABA programs may have been deficient. However, that was a result of the professional’s inexperience applying the principles and not problems with the principles themselves. The benefit of ABA is that it is a science and therefore progress made anywhere in the world is made available to all through the studies published in scientific journals. Over the past 40 years there have been an uncountable number of breakthroughs and experience gained addressing even the most complex human issues with the principles of ABA. It is important to remember that ABA is the science of what works.
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.
Where does therapy take place?
Therapy can take place in the home, community, or school setting depending on what is appropriate for each child.
What is the difference between a LPA and a BCBA?
An LPA (Licensed Psychological Associate) is a person with a Master’s degree in psychology and holds a current North Carolina license to practice as a Psychological Associate. LPA’s are able to practice all areas of psychology (including Behavior Analysis) within their realm of competency. A BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) is a person with a Master’s degree in one of many fields who has obtained national certification in the understanding and application of behavioral principles. Neither credential is specific to working with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, so always make sure that your provider’s training and education included the use of ABA therapy for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
How much ABA therapy is needed?
The amount of ABA therapy needed will need depend on a variety of factors. After completing an initial assessment, your therapist will be able to assess your child’s strengths and weaknesses, developing a comprehensive plan tailored to your child’s needs. Your therapist will be able to tell you how many hours per week will be needed to ensure your child successfully benefits from ABA therapy.