You have just entered the world of autism. Someone close to you – be it your young or older child, family member – has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). You are the one in charge, the one who gets to choose what to do next. What do you need to know to help someone with ASD live the most fulfilling life possible?
By now you’ve realized that the reason autism is defined as a spectrum of disorders is that kids with autism express their condition in a variety of ways – no two are just alike. These are unique kids on unique journeys. You are on that journey as well. You’ve also learned by now that early intervention is key. This brings us to finding the right therapy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), currently, no treatment has been shown to cure ASD, but several interventions have been developed and studied for use with young children. These interventions may reduce symptoms, improve cognitive ability and daily living skills, and maximize the ability of the child to function and participate in the community. A notable treatment approach is called Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA has become widely accepted among healthcare professionals and used in many schools and treatment clinics.
ABA is commonly practiced as a therapeutic intervention for individuals with autism, and is our cornerstone at BASS ABA Therapy. As described by the Center for Autism, Behavior Analysis is the scientific study of behavior. ABA is the application of the principles of learning and motivation from behavior analysis. Many decades of research have validated treatments based on ABA. ABA helps the autistic client improve social interactions, learn new skills, and maintain positive behaviors.
ABA Therapy is an approach that focuses on helping people develop skills that are very difficult for them. ABA does this by looking at factors in a person’s world that undermine their success, and then carefully changing those factors to teach different and more appropriate ways of responding. Kennedy Kreiger Institute references an extensive body of literature that has documented the successful use of ABA-based procedures to reduce problem behavior and increase appropriate skills for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID), autism, and related disorders. In truth, while the goals may be different, ABA can be effective with any of us at any age.
You’ve chosen ABA Therapy as the standard of practice that you want for your child. What are the other factors to consider when choosing a therapist and treatment center?
First and foremost, you should check the accreditation of any individual therapist or group. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) approves ABA therapists with graduate-level education in the following categories:
- Board-Certified Behavior Analyst: identified by the initials BCBA after their name. These therapists have a master’s degree and appropriate training.
- BCBA-D: BCBAs with a doctorate-level degree.
- BCaBA: Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts, who are supportive team members with undergraduate level degrees and training. A BCaBA cannot practice alone but can work in therapeutic settings when supervised with someone who is certified at a higher level.
- Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs): a minimum of a high school diploma and 40 hours of specialized training who work only under the direct supervision of a BCBA or BCaBA.
Now that you’ve been researching for a while, you know the basics, and you have your short-list of potential therapists and/or treatment centers. How do you choose the winner? Now is the time to focus how they interpret the process. Some may promise instant results – you’ve heard that kind of sales pitch before! As BASS ABA Therapy Executive Director John Adelinis says, “Results will come with ABA therapy, but they don’t always happen rapidly. Every learner processes information and improves differently. Development can be a slow, step-by-step process and the speed of the desired results depends on the level of functioning, age, and other factors of each individual child, including caregiver involvement.” We focus on a 1-to-1 therapist-to-child ratio that promotes an individualized teaching approach that will produce the outcomes you want for your child. It’s a great place to start.
It’s a lot to take in. But you can do this. Never doubt that you are up to the task. Your incentive is right in front of you. And when you find the right ABA therapist for your child, everyone involved (especially you!) will find help and brighter skies along the way.