How Does Behavioral Therapy Work for Children with ASDs?
Behavioral therapy is a general term defining a number of techniques. Here are some details about these practices in order to form a basis for understanding how and why clinicians choose various methods of treatment for children with autism spectrum disorders.
Changing Thinking About Behavioral Therapy
Most psychology students and aspiring therapists learn about something called cognitive behavioral therapy. It is one of the major bases of modern therapy, formed around the idea that an individual’s way of thinking affects behavior, mood, and health.
This set of theories and practices seeks to link thoughts and behaviors in order to help patients identify harmful logical fallacies or negative thought practices. In turn, they make changes that help them overcome challenges in their lives. Basically, the idea is that behavior will change when thinking changes.
Applied behavioral analysis therapy is similar in many ways to cognitive behavioral therapy. The two have many of the same goals, such as increasing patients’ confidence, modifying their behavior, and fostering their ability to make positive decisions about the way they interact in groups. ABA also uses analysis and data to make decisions, just as the cognitive version does.
The main difference is that ABA works directly on the behavioral level rather than associating actions with thought processes. This data-driven, clinical use of behavioral dialog is one of the main reasons that this type of treatment is effective for children with ASDs, especially those who have trouble communicating verbally or are at risk of becoming non-verbal.
Using ABA for ASD Treatment
A focus on applied behavioral techniques defines ABA therapy for children with ASDs. During a typical session, which may last several hours and occur every weekday depending on the child in question, an ABA therapist might do any or all of the following:
- Introduce basic functional skills
- Reinforce positive behavior
- refine activities from previous sessions
- Work on gestures
- Establish verbal communication
- Address incidental behaviors as they arise
The typical ABA therapy session is actually anything but typical. Not only are these treatment programs custom-tailored to every individual child, but each session also has its own unique dynamic. There are some constants, of course, namely a focus on long-term goals and a high level of engagement from the therapist.
Understanding the Process
This is probably a different type of treatment than most people are expecting when they walk into a psychologist’s office. These highly engaging, interactive sessions are focused on positive reinforcement rather than on thoughts and their possible links to behaviors. They may even take place in classrooms or at home. In fact, they are often even fun for patients.
ABA therapy seeks to use these analytical and practical techniques to improve social and communication skills, enhance academic performance, and reduce problem behavior. To learn how to implement these treatments for your own child, please schedule an initial consultation today. You can contact us online or call us at 1-866-342-8847.