Learning that your child has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be very difficult for family members. One of the most important things to remember is that your child is still the same child that he/she was prior to the diagnosis. As you learn about ASD and begin to use resources and find supports available, the more empowered you will become to be your child’s best advocate.
A few facts about autism:
- It has been estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that in the U.S., autism now affects 1 in 59 children (1 in 37 are boys).
- Autism is one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the United States
- While there is no cure for autism there is treatment.
One of the few scientific approaches for the treatment of ASD is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). It is one of the only interventions that has verified results for individuals diagnosed with autism. ABA has been helping individuals with ASD and related developmental disorders since the 1960s. Treatment for your child utilizes the principles and methods of ABA to target and treat socially significant behaviors, for example, communication, social skills, daily living skills, and behavioral challenges. ABA can help increase positive behaviors and teach self-control and self-monitoring to maintain positive behaviors in various situations.
With decades of research and empirically validated interventions, behavior analysts have a toolbox of advanced techniques to help teach skills to individuals with autism. Methods include teaching skills in the natural environment, modeling, task-based schedules, reinforcement, modifying environmental situations, discrete trial teaching, Pivotal Response Training, functional communication training and more.
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Therapy is often conducted one-to-one across any setting—home, community, social group, daycare, and classroom setting. ABA services vary for different types of learners. Options include intensive, up to 40 hours per week, as well as less intensive services. Research demonstrates that individuals who receive early intensive behavioral interventions have the best outcomes. The hours are initially prescribed by the diagnosing doctor based on their evaluations. Additional evaluations are then conducted by the behavior analyst from the ABA program, in which treatment goals are developed based on the results.
One of the best things about ABA is that it does not require the use of expensive equipment or tools. It is easy to learn and incorporate into your everyday life. Each member of your family can learn and practice varying aspects of what your child is being taught by an ABA provider and carry it over throughout the day. In fact, this is highly encouraged. Parent/caregiver training is an essential aspect of your ABA program. Being part of your child’s team and implementing ABA therapy in your home will have the greatest impact on your child’s advancement and achievements.
1Autism Speaks. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.autismspeaks.org
This article was featured in Issue 80 – Conquering Challenges With ASD