What is ABA therapy?
Also known as applied behavior analysis, ABA therapy is a category of therapy that focuses on changing negative behaviors into positive interactions. This is most often done at the recommendation of a doctor such as a pediatrician, but it is possible to speak with a professional therapist in some states without a doctor-ordered assessment. ABA is designed to help address specific symptoms and is most commonly used with children living with autism, but it can also be used to help with other disorders, too.
It is important to note that ABA therapy is not a one-size-fits-all approach. On the contrary, it is a field of science consisting of a variety of treatment recommendations and approaches. Some of the most common forms of ABA therapy include discrete trial training (DTT), the picture exchange communication system (PECS), modeling, and reinforcement systems.
Who exactly needs ABA therapy and what benefits does this treatment option offer? Let’s take a closer look at ABA programs and the strategies used within them to achieve goals and mitigate problem behaviors.
Who might need ABA therapy?
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Panic disorder
- Improved confidence in social settings
- Better ability to understand the consequence of certain actions
- Increased verbal communication skills
- A happier family more comfortable with behavioral intervention
The ADHD community isn’t always mentioned when considering ABA therapy, but these learners can benefit greatly from the techniques used. By using reward systems designed to praise and reward children rather than punish them, ABA can help improve impulsivity, overactivity, and even focus in people with ADHD.
ABA is an incredibly effective technique to treat OCD. The right teacher can help students manage the recurring and unwanted thoughts that typically lead to compulsive behavior. Therapy sessions can ultimately give the OCD student the framework for a better response to these negative thoughts and, in turn, train them to respond more healthily.
Oppositional defiant disorder refers to a mental health disorder most often found in children with symptoms like anger, arguing, irritability, vindictiveness, and defiance towards authority figures. Children living with ODD often find it difficult to respond appropriately to issues such as mild punishment to reinforce the consequences of their actions. ABA can help children with ODD by training them to regulate their anger and identify its root causes, as well as by helping them practice these skills in different environments.
PTSD is a serious disorder with varying degrees of severity. A treatment plan including ABA therapy can sometimes help to manage serious symptoms. From heart palpitations to breathlessness, dizziness, stomach aches, or chest pain, ABA can help students deal with PTSD in various ways. While it is not a cure-all, consistent sessions of ABA therapy can lead to permanent changes.
ABA therapy can address panic disorder by teaching learners different types of panic regulation skills. Behavioral activation is the most often utilized form of ABA therapy in these cases. This kind of program involves triggering fear, then interacting with the child (or other-age patient) to guide them through the anxiety.
Is ABA therapy the right choice for your treatment goals? The United States has many qualified doctors ready to help new clients. Start by asking your primary care provider for a recommendation, then expand your search to other local experts. You’ll find the right teacher in no time.