A person who wants to earn a degree in psychology, social work, medicine or a related field of expertise may wonder, “What can ABA therapy be used for?” ABA, or applied behavior analysis, is a type of therapy that is based on the science of human behavior. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid as well as many private insurers offer coverage for ABA therapy to people who have certain medical conditions.
Increasing Language and Communication Skills
One of the primary uses of ABA therapy is for increasing a person’s language and communication skills. People with autism often have difficulty with multiple aspects of communication and language. They may not speak, or if they do, they may use grunts or just a few words instead of a vocabulary that is appropriate for their age. People with autism may not look at others who are talking. They may avoid eye contact or even turn away from a person who speaks directly to them. ABA therapy can be used to decrease these unwanted behaviors and promote wanted behaviors, such as looking at the person who is speaking.
Boosting Focus and Attention
ABA therapy is also used for boosting an individual’s focus on a task. It has been successful in people with the inattentive type of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). People with autism may also benefit from ABA therapy for focus. The spectrum of autism also includes people who have a hyper-focus on one particular topic, concept or thing. This is a hallmark of Asperger syndrome. ABA therapy could help a person with Asperger syndrome to be able to move their attention off of their single, preferred subject.
A poor memory is related to poor performance in school and difficulty with following instructions in any environment. A person’s inability to follow instructions could cause considerable social distress and lead to a lot of frustration. Difficulty with following directions is a common symptom in people with autism, ADHD, oppositional-defiant disorder and many other mental health conditions. ABA therapy can be used in order to help a person improve their memory. Instead of being able to only follow one instruction at a time, a person might be able to listen to and respond correctly to a two-step set of instructions.
Decreasing Problem Behaviors
Children with autism, ADHD and other learning and mental health disorders often develop problem behaviors. The behaviors are a problem because they are disruptive or interfere with social relationships, tasks, listening or learning. For example, a person with autism may sit and rock for hours, or a person with ADHD might walk around a classroom instead of sitting during silent reading time. ABA therapy makes use of positive rewards in order to decrease problem behaviors, explains the Autism Speaks organization.
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ABA therapy is a proven treatment for people with autism. Although not all states require private insurers to offer coverage for ABA therapy, it is widely used in order to help people with autism and related disabilities to live more independently so that they can have happier and more productive futures. Knowing the answer to, “What can ABA therapy be used for?” could help a person choose a career path or help a family decide which types of therapy could help their child live to their fullest potential.