Why use ABA?.... Why wouldn’t you use ABA?
When I first heard about ABA I was interested to find out more about it. I went on to study to an advanced level and have continued teaching using the strategies because, quite frankly, it works! It assumes everyone is an individual and is sympathetic to the ‘real-life’ needs of children with autism. The methods are logical, adaptable and effective so rather than asking ‘Why use ABA?’ I would be more inclined to ask ‘Why wouldn’t you use ABA?’
So, what exactly is ABA?
ABA is based on the science of learning and behaviour and stands for Applied Behaviour Analysis. In simplified terms, this means determining the reason why we behave in certain ways when in certain situations. Remember, ‘behaviour’ refers to anything and everything we do. The ‘applied’ part of Applied Behaviour Analysis refers to the fact that it targets real-life, everyday situations that everyone can encounter.
And knowing why we do things means that we can teach valuable skills in meaningful contexts… and that is the best part about ABA, it is USEFUL!!
It has general “rules” about how behaviour works, and how and when learning takes place. Often, children with autism use undesirable behaviours such as aggression to get what they want. These can be harmful to themselves or others and can interfere with their learning.
No behaviour occurs “out of the blue” or “for no reason at all” as we might initially think. ABA helps us to understand what that reason is and how to identify the warning signs. With this information, these behaviours can be affected using scientifically based techniques - therefore allowing us to increase desirable behaviours such as communication, and to reduce occurrences of undesirable behaviours such as tantrums.
ABA can be used to increase communication skills, social skills, academics: it can be used to increase the variety of someone’s diet; to toilet train a child; to teach them to accept going to the dentist or the hairdressers. It can also be used to decrease problem behaviours which may limit where you go, what you can do and how you do things.
So, how does it work?
ABA looks at what happens directly before a behaviour – the antecedent, and the consequence – what happens after the behaviour.
The antecedent helps us to understand the function of the behaviour – did the behaviour occur to gain access to something? To avoid something? Because something fun stopped?
As for consequences, have you heard of positive reinforcement? It’s a reward. If a behaviour is followed by a reward, the behaviour is more likely to be repeated. These rewards are an essential part of ABA – they bring about the meaningful behaviour changes we need.
Will ABA benefit my child?
Is your child having difficulty learning? Having difficulty communicating? Tantruming? Displaying aggression?
Then yes, ABA is likely to be useful. Every child is different and has individual needs so progress can be quicker for some but I’ve never not seen progress made.
What do I do if I’m not sure if it’s right for my child?
Ring us, email is, pop in to talk to us. If you decide it’s not for you, we can help you find something that you think may be more to your liking. But I don’t think you’ll need to. Because ABA is evidence based, unlike to many other therapies. Did I say I’ve studied ABA for years? I like it. It works.