What is Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA)?
Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is a scientifically validated approach to understanding and changing human behaviour. It has been widely used as an intervention for autistic children and those with other developmental disabilities. It has been shown to be an effective way of helping indivdiuals reach their full potential.
ABA focuses on the individual’s behaviour and the environmental factors that influence it. It uses a systematic and data-driven approach to evaluate the behaviour. The objective is to teach new skills and replace maladaptive behaviour with more functional and appropriate behaviour.
ABA is highly individualised, taking into account the specific needs, strengths, and limitations of the person receiving intervention. ABA programs are designed to be both effective and efficient, with progress being monitored and evaluated regularly to ensure that your child is making progress towards their goals. At Super Kids, we do this through monthly Team Meetings and regular parent support sessions.
As a parent or carer, you will play an important role in your child’s ABA therapy. You will work closely with your child’s Super Kids clinical team to set goals and determine the best approaches to achieve those goals.
In conclusion, Applied Behaviour Analysis is a scientifically validated approach to understanding and changing human behaviour. It has a strong evidence base and has been shown to be an effective intervention for children with disabilities, including autism. ABA is individualised and data-driven, and focuses on increasing desired behaviour and decreasing undesired behaviour. As a parent, you will play an important role in your child’s ABA therapy, working closely with the therapist to help your child reach their full potential.
Who is it best for and how much ABA intervention does my child need?
Research indicates that optimal outcomes in early intervention are achieved with upwards of 20 hours of therapy per week. Reviews and guidelines that provide evidence about intensity (hours per week) and duration of interventions report that comprehensive programs that have been evaluated and shown to be effective are most commonly provided for between 15 and 25 hours a week, suggesting a midpoint of 20 hours, and for at least 1 year’ (Roberts & Williams, 2013).
Data from multiple studies of comprehensive ABA treatment for children show that:
- High-intensity treatment produces the largest improvements (Eldevik, Hastings, Hughes, Jahr, Eikeseth, & Cross, 2009, 2010; Klintwall, Eldevik, & Eikeseth, 2015; Virués-Ortega, Rodríguez, & Yu, 2013).
- At least 36 hours of direct ABA treatment per week for at least two years is associated with clinically significant, reliable changes in cognitive and adaptive skills (Eldevik et al., 2010).
- Low-intensity ABA treatment produces smaller improvements than high-intensity ABA treatment (e.g., Eldevik, Eikeseth, Jahr, & Smith, 2006; Eldevik, Hastings, Jahr, & Hughes, 2013; Green, 2011; Peters-Scheffer, Didden, Mulders, & Korzilius, 2010).
- Eclectic treatment comprising some ABA treatment plus a mixture of other therapies or methods is in- effective (at best) for most children with ASD, even when it is individualized and intensive (Eikeseth, Smith, Jahr, & Eldevik, 2002, 2007; Eldevik et al., 2009, 2010; Howard, Sparkman, Cohen, Green, & Stanislaw, 2005; Howard, Stanislaw, Green, Sparkman, & Cohen, 2014; Klintwall et al., 2015).
A child’s access to long-term, comprehensive ABA services results in benefits across the developmental domains, such as language, play, social skills and daily living skills (Linstead et al., 2017). Research has consistently shown that children receiving ABA services experience greater improvements over time in severity of diagnosis, IQ score and numerous skill domains, including but not limited to language comprehension, play and social skills and self-help skills, compared to children receiving eclectic or non-ABA services (Eldevik et al., 2006; Zachor et al., 2007).
Do BCBA’s work with other allied health professionals?
Super Kids are committed to working collaboratively with other health professionals to ensure the best possible outcomes are achieved for our clients. We will refer our clients to allied health specialists when the skills targeted for acquisition in the child’s early intervention program fall outside the scope of our training and competency. We may refer a child to see a speech pathologist for assessment and treatment of oral motor, articulation, and feeding problems. We may refer a child to see an occupational therapist or physiotherapist for assessment and treatment of fine or gross motor deficits that fall outside of the scope of our practice. We refer families to their trusted medical professional when we suspect that the child’s behaviour is the result of an underlying medical condition or is biological in nature.
Super Kids acknowledges each individual’s personal preference to use identity-first or person-first language to describe themselves or their loved one. We interchangeably use both language conventions and therefore refer to both autistic children and children with autism.