ABA Therapy in the Treatment of Autism: What is the Focus of Therapy?

Comprehensive ABA therapy programs address every area a child needs to be successful in daily life.  Each skill is broken down into its smaller component steps, and the steps are taught in a clear and logical hierarchy.  Skills range from simple and basic skills occurring early in development to difficult and complex skills that typically develop later in life.

ABA therapy focuses on seven main areas:  1) Language Skills, 2) Behavioral Skills, 3) Cognitive Skills, 4) Social Skills, 5) Self-Help/Daily Living Skills, 6) Motor Skills, and 7) Play Skills.

ABA therapy can be used for any child with autism, whether high or low functioning.  A good program will tailor the instruction to the specific child’s needs as well as their strengths and deficits.

How Are Skills Addressed In Each Area?

In the area of Language skill development, a program may focus first on basic imitation of sounds.  This progresses to imitation of words and sentences.  As a child progresses, activities may include expressively labeling objects, requesting items, answering questions, all the way up to carrying on complex and detailed conversations.

ABA Therapy for Children with AutismWhen addressing behavior development, programs address a wide range of issues including reducing self-stimulatory behaviors and decreasing inappropriate / maladaptive behaviors by increasing appropriate replacement behaviors.  Examples can include teaching a child to request an item rather than screaming when he or she wants something, teaching a child to wait, and teaching alternative behaviors to eliminate self-stimulatory behaviors such as hand flapping and jumping. The concept of delayed gratification can also be taught using token systems.

Regarding cognitive skill development, concepts vary from basic matching at the early stages of therapy to complex theory of mind skills such as recognizing different perspectives and points of view and abstract reasoning skills. Other skills can include various academic skills such as learning letters, numbers, reading and reading comprehension, math skills, and other general knowledge skills such as science and history.

Social skill development programs cover skills such as responding to and initiating greetings, how to interact with peers, maintaining appropriate eye contact, answering common social questions, and participating in conversations.  Other skills can include recognizing emotions and understanding various social cues.

Programs teaching self-help and daily living skills development also address a wide range of skills needed for independent living. These programs can include potty-training, eating independently, eating a variety of foods, personal hygiene, and doing age-appropriate household chores.  More advanced skills include learning to use money, cooking, and how to shop.

In the area of motor skill development, programs focus on gross, fine, and oral motor actions.  As a child progresses, activities may include coloring, drawing, and writing.  Gross motor actions needed to participate in outdoor games and sports are taught.  Oral motor actions include helping a child learn to manipulate her mouth so as to improve her ability to make sound.

Play skill development is taught through programs that address skills beginning with structured play activities that teach a child how to play with toys.  As a child progresses, activities include learning how to play games, taking turns, and sharing.  A good program will also introduce a child to novel play and leisure activities to increase the child’s repertoire and ability to accept random changes in play activities.

ABA Therapy for children with autismWhat should I do if I would like more information or want ABA therapy for my child?

If you are interested receiving ABA therapy services for your child or would like to learn more about ABA therapy, please contact us with any questions.  Whether calling our company or other providers, don’t wait for problems to get out of hand before you seek services. Waiting lists are common for ABA therapy. Priorities ABA is working hard to expand our ability to help more children. The recent passage of the autism insurance mandate will allow us to expand our services helping children in the Raleigh and Charlotte, NC areas.

Leave a Reply