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ABA therapy doesn’t just help individuals with autism spectrum disorders. ABA can also be effectively applied to both children and adults with any developmental challenges or delays, and/or other behavioural issues. The main aim of ABA is to develop and enhance behaviours that will empower these individuals to overcome challenges, acquire essential functional skills and gain independence for a quality life.
Your child may benefit from ABA intervention if he/she is observed to be having difficulties in the following areas:
- Basic learner skills – unable to stay seated for long, maintain eye contact or follow simple instructions.
- Communication and language skills – difficulty in understanding and/or using language.
- Social and play skills – unable to engage meaningfully with toys, initiate interaction with others or comprehend social cues/rules.
- Independent living skills – unable to perform self-help skills independently (e.g. dressing, feeding, toileting, etc.) or tolerate new activities (e.g. nail cutting).
- Motor skills – challenges in performing gross (walking, climbing or jumping) and/or fine motor (gripping or colouring) skills.
- Academic skills – has difficulty in writing, reading or solving Maths problems.
- Advanced cognitive skills – difficulty in reasoning, problem-solving or inferencing.
- Behaviour management – display problem behaviours, such as aggression, tantrum, disruptive behaviour, etc.
Do consult your ABA specialist to discuss your concerns and possible follow-up actions.
As young as 2 years of age. The sooner you begin the intervention, the better the progress of your child. At Dynamics, we recommend that parents start their child on the programme as soon as they observe signs of developmental issues, even if the child is below 2 years old. This will help the child bridge gaps in learning earlier and make significant improvements in various areas of his/her development.
A session is typically 2–3 hours long. The duration per session or in a week varies for each child. Research has shown that more intensive therapy translates to better learning and progress for the child. The ABA Supervisor would be able to give a more accurate picture upon assessment.
During therapy, an ABA therapist will work intensively, one-on-one, with the child on specific skills or goals. As a large part of ABA therapy is also behaviour management, therapy sessions will include targeting inappropriate behaviours and teaching the child what to do instead of engaging in the inappropriate behaviour.
A typical ABA programme starts intensively with multiple sessions per week and the number of sessions may increase/decrease, depending on the child’s progress. We understand that the pace of skill acquisition differs from one child to the next. We will regularly monitor and track the child’s progress towards the defined goals, and will make adjustments to the goals, as needed, to enhance the effectiveness of the programme.
The results may vary as every child learns and develops differently. It is imperative to be consistent throughout the programme to achieve better results. Also, research has shown that more intensive therapy leads to better learning and progress for the child.
To enable your child to achieve his/her full potential, ABA adopts a holistic approach through collaborations with other professionals, such as Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists and Psychologists. Dynamics provides an in-house multidisciplinary team of specialists and a child-centric programme to cater to your child’s unique learning needs.
ABA helps children, teenagers or adults diagnosed with learning or behavioural issues as well as individuals exhibiting inappropriate behaviours. ABA focuses on various components, such as communication and language skills, social skills, play skills, self-help/functional living skills and academic skills. ABA is a behavioural technique that works on modifying and reducing the frequency of inappropriate behaviours occurring. Instead, it aims to increase the frequency of desirable behaviours.
Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is a technique used by Behaviour Therapists, who are supervised by Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA) consultants. Therapists who are trained under the BCBA consultants are taught to uphold high ethical standards and practise ABA techniques and strategies under supervision.
BCBA consultants themselves have undergone intensive supervision and coursework in accordance with the Behaviour Analyst Certification Board (BACB), a credentialing organisation that operates certification programmes for behaviour analysts.
Parents and caregivers are our strongest partners and allies. We need all key parties on board to ensure the success of the child’s therapy. One of the aims of ABA is to help the child generalise skills and behaviours outside of the sessions. And at home, parents and/or caregivers play a significant role in helping their child reinforce what they have learned.
Dynamics Behaviour Analysis’ (DBA) ABA services include guiding parents and caregivers in the child’s developmental and learning journey. We provide them with relevant training and resources, update them on the child’s progress on an ongoing basis, and remain accessible to parents/caregivers to address any concerns or questions they might have about their child or the programme.
ABA therapy is highly personalised and conducted one-on-one intensively to ensure that the child’s unique needs are met. Before the therapy, parents are required to fill in a questionnaire, which will provide the ABA professionals with more details about the child’s developmental history and basic information across various domains.
An assessment of the child’s abilities and deficits is done using our ABA Curriculums. Our BCBA consultants will develop an individualised intervention education program (IEP), consisting of the goals to be worked on. Once the IEP is in place, intensive 1:1 sessions will commence. The progress of the child towards the defined goals is monitored closely and consistently, and modifications will be made to the programme if needed. The parents/caregivers are also regularly updated on the child’s progress.
During the sessions, we will use a combination of well-known evidence-based procedures, such as the Natural Environment Teaching (NET), which teaches skills within the natural environment and uses naturally occurring reinforcers; Verbal Behaviour (VB), a highly effective approach, which teaches the function and meaning of language; Discrete Trial Training (DTT), which uses a structured technique, with repetitions and positive reinforcements, to teach a new skill or behaviour.
Throughout the programme, the types of motivators or reinforcers we use will depend on the child. Such rewards can include verbal praise or a favourite snack. We will also teach new and/or replacement adaptive skills, such as toileting, feeding, and gross and fine motor skills (using a behavioural approach).
Various strategies can be used, depending on the behaviours presented and their severity. Your child needs to understand that their actions will result in consequences, whether good or bad. The strategies that are implemented have to be delivered consistently across the board.
Positive reinforcements, such as social praises or tangible rewards, help reinforce and increase the frequency of the appropriate behaviours exhibited. Inappropriate behaviours can be reduced through the use of consequences, such as time out, negative token economy system, etc.
The ABA professionals will also guide and support parents and caregivers in implementing the right strategies at home through interactions, such as parent training.
It is important to set clear contingencies and expectations about what the child will earn for good sitting and working behaviour.
Set up a schedule so the child understands what is expected of them. They can enjoy a break of their choice once they have completed their tasks as scheduled.
At the start, you can reward your child for staying in their seat for a short duration. Rewards, such as giving access to preferred toys or activities and verbal praises, will make sitting a positive experience for the child.
Establish the baseline of your child’s sitting tolerance by gauging how much time they can sit still comfortably. You can gradually extend and reinforce the sitting and working time by rewarding or giving a break for the increased duration.
It is also a good tactic to use timers to let the child know what is the expected sitting time as the timer acts as a cue and reminder. The tactic of using tokens can also be effective for some children. These tokens, awarded for good sitting and working, can be exchanged for the desired break time once the child has earned the required number of tokens.
The techniques and strategies employed for each child will differ, depending on what motivates and works for each child.
Reinforcement is when a preferred item is presented immediately after the appropriate behaviour is exhibited, thereby, increasing the likelihood that the good behaviour will maintain and occur again in the future.
Example: Dad gave a lollipop to his daughter for sitting still on the chair and completing her homework. Here, the reinforcer (a lollipop) is only given when the appropriate behaviour has occurred. The daughter will then learn to exhibit the appropriate behaviour more often to earn the reinforcer.
Bribery, on the other hand, is when a preferred item or activity is presented to stop an inappropriate behaviour after it has begun. In other words, bribery occurs when a reinforcer is given before the child exhibits the desired behaviour.
Example: Sara is flopping around and throwing a tantrum on the chair, and her dad tells her, “I’ll give you a lollipop for sitting nicely on the chair.” In this example, the inappropriate behaviour has already occurred and what the child has learned is that she should flop around and throw a tantrum on the chair whenever she wants a lollipop.
Bribery might seem to stop the negative behaviour at the moment, but over time, it teaches the child that engaging in negative behaviour can help them get access to what they want, thus, shaping and increasing negative patterns of behaviour.