What is ABA therapy?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for children with autism, is an intensive and comprehensive one-on-one teaching program based on decades of research. The program uses a systematic approach to teaching complex skills through the use of reinforcement. ABA therapy is sometimes referred to as Intensive Behavioral Intervention (IBI) or Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI).

The program begins by teaching basic skills such as table readiness, imitation, and attending before moving on to more complex skills like language, play skills, and social interaction. Since children within the autism spectrum vary greatly in their strengths and weaknesses, highly individualized programs are developed to meet the needs of each child. Emphasis is placed on making sure therapy is fun for the child. As the child advances, therapy becomes more flexible and extends into the school and community. This helps the child generalize (apply) skills in different settings, with different people, in different ways than what s/he has learned thus far. This enables the child to take better advantage of opportunities available to typically developing children and require less professional attention later in life.

Every child with autism is different and it is impossible to predict exactly how any child will do long term. However, there are factors that impact how successful an ABA program can be. These factors include how early a child begins therapy (although this should NEVER be taken to mean that older children cannot make significant improvement), the intensity of therapy (meaning the number of hours per week of well-structured and effective therapy time), the guidance of your child’s program by a well-trained professional, the ability to provide ongoing staff and parent training, and the level of parent participation in a child’s program.