Therapists working with autistic children are finding that In-Home Behavioral Analysis intervention gives a better outcome than traditional center-based therapy. This appears to be true across the autism spectrum. Not only does the method increase client success, but it also creates a more positive result for others involved. To understand how the approach works, it is necessary to understand applied behavioral analysis.
Behavioral Analysis is a form of therapy in which the therapist attempts to identify and modify negative behavior. Applied Behavioral Analysis seeks to understand the environment in which the behavior occurs. In other words, ABA looks at what initiates the behavior to help the client to both anticipate it and to control it. As such, the therapy is different for each client.
Hallmarks of ABA Therapy
Therapists who utilize applied behavioral analysis in treating children with autism focus on positive reinforcement instead of using negative consequences. They offer rewards and other incentives for the child to change the behaviors. They also break up modifications into small steps. Clients are given prompts instead of being asked to initiate the tasks required of them, and they are asked to repeat the successful modification several times.
Some of the behaviors therapists seek to modify are social tasks like acceptable behavior in public, making and keeping friends and reducing or eliminating acting-out or tantrums. Other targeted behaviors are skills like brushing teeth, bathing and eating, which are the so-called activities of daily living. Therapists work to help clients in academics and in alleviating depression as well as helping them communicate successfully. All of these interventions work together to eventually help the client achieve independence.
Therapists have discovered that autistic children have better outcomes when their treatments occur in familiar, non-threatening environments. It is also easier to teach skills to children in the environments where they are used. Working with children in their homes has the added benefit of increasing parental involvement because they are present in the home. According to the website Applied Behavioral Analysis Edu.org., parent-based teaching has been shown to result in more frequent verbalizations and improvement in speech and social interactions. Additionally, scheduling is more flexible. Children can be taught how to manage utensils at mealtime, and at the family table, for instance. Plus, therapists can meet with parents regularly to monitor and assess progress and goal-meeting.
One draw-back of In-Home ABA is that many people who could benefit from it live at a distance from therapists. For instance, clients who live in small rural communities may not have access to this treatment option. To meet that need therapists use technology in “telebehavioral health” which can occur through teleconferencing. Therapists can arrange to hold sessions with parents at times convenient to them and teach them how to manage interventions with their children.
The goal of any ABA intervention with autistic children or clients with other impairments is to modify behavior that interferes with their daily lives. The hope with most of these interventions is that the modifications they induce will last into adulthood. In-Home Applied Behavioral Analysis is an attempt to incorporate normal environmental settings into therapy to increase the likelihood of this happening.
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