My child has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. What treatment options are available?

ABA Therapy Session

There are a few treatment options available for children with autism. Some treatment options include medication and ABA therapy. Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, focuses on encouraging socially-acceptable behaviors in children and decreasing or extinguishing behaviors that aren’t socially acceptable. ABA therapy, in conjunction with an ABA therapist and caregiver interaction, teaches children with autism the skills they need for social interaction, communication, self-care, and more. ABA therapy is the most common therapy for children with autism and is recognized as an effective treatment for autism.

"What is the best age to start ABA therapy?"

What techniques do ABA therapists use

Studies have shown that the best time to begin ABA therapy is between the ages of 2 and 6. However, older children and adults with autism have seen success with ABA therapy. ABA therapy is not a lifelong commitment.

"What should I look for in an ABA therapy clinic?"

ABA therapy can be done in-home or in an ABA therapy clinic, and it is usually covered by medical insurance. When looking for an ABA therapy clinic, there are a couple of things you should check for:

  1. Credentials
  2. Qualified Programming
  3. Caregiver Training
  4. Licensed Staff

Credentials are important because you need to be certain a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) is managing the cases at the clinic. In some states, a BCBA must also be licensed. You should also check to see how many cases each BCBA is handling. If they have more than 20 cases, they may not be equipped to spend the time needed to treat your child effectively.

Qualified programming should include observable data that supports each behavior and each program used in ABA therapy sessions. The clinic you choose should have individualized plans for each child; ABA therapy is not a one-size-fits-all approach, as each child has different skills and matures at different rates. Kids with developmental disabilities need more time to learn new skills than neurotypical children, but each child’s skill level will be completely different. The treatment plan will require ongoing assessment, analysis, and adjustment based on the skills your child attains during therapy sessions. ABA therapy is not meant to last forever, so the treatment plan should be adjusted with an end-date in mind. 

ABA clinics should use evidence-based practices with research proving effective results, such as Discrete Trial Training. ABA therapy has moved away from the reward and punishment system, as punishments are no longer socially acceptable in therapy sessions. Instead, ABA therapists should focus on positive reinforcement for acceptable behaviors.

Caregiver training is vital to the effectiveness of ABA therapy. Therapy sessions are only a portion of the work required to help children with autism develop life skills. The rest of the work must be done outside of therapy sessions–in the home, at school, and in social situations. Caregiver training gives parents, caregivers, and families the tools and techniques they need to help their children continue learning life skills.

Finally, the ABA therapy clinic you choose should have licensed staff members providing ABA services. As mentioned, a BCBA should be managing cases at the clinic. Any staff at the clinic should be trained or educated to work with children and should hold a BCBA or RBT (Registered Behavior Technician) credential.

"What techniques do ABA therapists use?"

ABA therapists use several techniques during therapy sessions. Modeling, positive reinforcement, Discrete Trial Training (DTT), Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), and Naturalistic Teaching are five techniques used in ABA therapy.

"How often are ABA therapy sessions?"

ABA therapy is an intensive treatment program that requires one-on-one direct therapy each week. The frequency and duration of ABA therapy sessions depends entirely on the child’s skill-level, developmental deficits, and maturity. ABA therapy sessions can be anywhere from 10-40 hours each week and can be spread out over a couple of days or every day. 

"Does ABA therapy actually work?"

The short answer is yes, ABA therapy does work. Ivar Lovaas developed ABA therapy in the 1960s. Through research, he discovered that early intervention with intensive behavioral therapy enabled children with autism to achieve success. Ivar concluded that 90% of children that go through ABA therapy make successful gains in life.

ABA therapy is recognized as the most effective, evidence-based treatment for individuals with autism. It is also endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"At what age does ABA therapy stop?"

As mentioned earlier, ABA therapy is not meant to last forever. “According to ABA therapy professionals, ABA should be stopped when: When the child has completed 2-3 years of intensive therapy followed by 2-3 more years in a focused approach.”

"Where can I find ABA therapy clinics near me?"

If you’re looking for ABA therapy services near you, there are a couple ways to find them. You can talk to your child’s doctor and ask for referrals or recommendations to an ABA clinic in your area. You can also do a search online by using keywords like, “ABA therapy clinics near me,” or “ABA therapy services near me,” to find an ABA clinic in your area. You can also speak to your child’s school and ask if they offer ABA therapy services or educational programs.

If you are looking for ABA therapy services in Katy, TX, look no further than Learning Continuum. At Learning Continuum, we strive to provide ABA treatment with a high level of fidelity. We incorporate the principles of ABA therapy with norm-referenced developmental milestones to create comprehensive treatment plans tailored to the specific strengths and needs of each child. Visit us online or contact us today for more information!

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