An Important Step: Building Writing Skills in ABA Therapy

Writing Skills in ABA Therapy

These days, when it seems like writing skills are largely eclipsed by high-tech communication methods, it is easy to discount the profound impact learning to write has on a child’s physical and intellectual development. Writing is a core skill that develops motor control, language competence, and emotional perspective.

Learning to write furthers many common goals for children with autism spectrum disorders. This makes spelling, penmanship, and related lessons a common feature at treatment centers. Writing is an especially critical focus point when children have trouble forming letters — or even concentrating on the paper in front of them.

While reading this article, it is important to keep in mind that writing is an advanced skill for any young child. ABA Therapy should always be based on the needs of the individual patient. An initial consultation should help reveal whether your child is at a stage where writing exercises would be beneficial.

When Do Children With Autism Begin Writing?

In applied behavioral analysis therapy, writing or pre-writing skills are typically a focus of treatment as early as possible. Beginning early often improves long-term academic performance. To know the right time to start for your child, an individual consultation would be necessary.

How Do ABA Therapists Teach Writing Skills?

Much like the planning stage, the execution of ABA therapy is based on individual analyses of children’s behavior. After analyzing a specific case, planners choose exercises and activities to meet the child’s learning needs and satisfy the goals of the family.

There are, of course, some commonalities. A typical writing session might involve therapists using rewards to actively reinforce individual steps of level-appropriate behaviors, such as drawing a line, forming a recognizable letter, or completing a sentence.

As far as individual techniques are concerned, some are relatively simple. An ABA therapist might exchange a pencil for a crayon, or else relocate the writing exercise to an easel or a wall. Other methods could be more involved, such as predictably, positively reinforcing each letter in a spelling exercise.

Pre-writing activities tend to appear more like play than study. For example, the therapist and the child might spend time mirroring each other’s drawings.

How Does Writing Therapy Work?

Through repetition, children with ASDs learn what is acceptable in terms of forming shapes and writing letters. One critical element of this type of ABA technique is to provide reinforcement at the instant the child performs the target behavior. Through reliable repetition of this reinforcement, children learn and proceed towards their development goals.

Writing is an essential step forward in cognitive, emotional, and physical development. Once a child grasps the physical side of writing, the groundwork is complete to address issues in content, such as complexity, length, and cohesion. To learn more about ABA techniques and why writing is important for children with autism spectrum disorders, please feel free to contact us directly.