Beginner’s Guide to ABA Therapy for Parents

Are you considering applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy for a child diagnosed with autism? This therapy empowers children and adolescents to develop skills and communication styles suited to their unique needs. 

In this guide, we’ll answer your pressing questions about ABA therapy and how it works to help you make the best treatment decisions for your child.

What Is ABA Therapy?

ABA therapy is a Center for Disease Control (CDC)-approved behavior therapy treatment for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and developmental delays. It’s also an evidence-based behavior modification therapy considered best practice by the U.S. Surgeon General and the American Psychological Association (APA).

With ABA therapy, your child will learn new behaviors, coping techniques and skills — including social, cognitive, behavioral or motor — tailored to their circumstances and behavior goals. Overall, these sessions will help your child learn, grow and become more confident and independent. 

Does Your Child Need ABA Therapy?

Consider the following questions to determine whether ABA therapy is suitable for your child:

  • Does your child have difficulty learning new skills?
  • Does your child struggle to communicate with you? 
  • Does your child have ASD, developmental delays or oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)?

Read more about common reasons to pursue ABA therapy based on your child’s age or developmental phase. 

How Does ABA Therapy Work?

All ABA therapy employs ongoing assessments, 1:1 teaching and a positive approach to learning. First, a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst or Registered Behavior Technician will assess and evaluate your child. Then, they will draft a treatment plan featuring goals or milestones after identifying desired behaviors. ABA therapy sessions usually take place in a setting where your child feels most at ease, like at home.

What Types of Behavior Therapy Exist for Your Child?

Clinicians use many strategies during ABA therapy to meet children where they’re at, so ABA therapy will look different for every child. However, a well-known ABA strategy is called positive reinforcement. When a child performs a specific action or behavior the parent would like to reinforce, that action is rewarded with something valuable to the child to improve the likelihood that they will repeat the positive behavior. 

Other treatment methods include Discrete Trial Learning, Incidental Teaching (also referred to as Natural Environment Training), Pivotal Response Training and Natural Language Paradigm (NLP). All ABA plans are structured to measure progress effectively. They also follow the same general principles, which include focusing on:

  • Antecedents: The antecedent is the circumstance preceding the behavior. For example, when a parent or therapist says, “Let’s wash our hands.”
  • Behaviors: The behavior is the child’s resulting behavior or reaction to the antecedent. For example, if the child walks to the sink to wash their hands or falls to the floor upset.
  • Consequences: The consequence of the behavior is the result or response to the child’s behavior, like withholding a reward to deter problem behaviors.

The Benefits of ABA Therapy 

With the help of ABA therapy, children and adolescents with autism, developmental delays and learning disabilities can develop skills they can use to navigate their day-to-day experiences and express themselves better. 

Some additional benefits of ABA therapy include:

  • Social and academic growth: ABA therapy can increase desired behaviors and result in enhanced learning, improved social interactions and better focus.
  • Enhanced independence and confidence: Equipped with new skills and coping mechanisms, children feel empowered and motivated to tackle new experiences and continue learning. 
  • Better understanding for parents: ABA therapy involves parents to help them understand and anticipate their children’s needs without rewarding problem behaviors.

How Old Does Your Child Need to Be to Begin ABA Therapy?

Depending on your child’s needs, they can begin ABA therapy as young as 2 years old. Additionally, the younger your child is, the more their sessions will resemble play therapy, making them more receptive to treatment. And the sooner your child begins ABA, the easier it will be for them to continue learning and maintaining positive behaviors. 

How Do You Start ABA Services for Your Child?

To begin ABA therapy for your child, consult with a supportive, experienced team of pediatric therapists like Communication Corner and More. Our licensed specialists offer in-home pediatric therapy services and use a play-based ABA therapy model to help your child feel comfortable. The more relaxed your child is, the more receptive they will be to learning new skills and behaviors. Plus, you’ll be right by your child’s side to engage with and encourage them through therapy sessions.

Contact Communication Corner and More Today

At Communication Corner and More, our experienced clinicians provide play-based, individual ABA therapy services. We help your child have fun while they learn new cognitive, social and academic skills. We’ll create a custom treatment plan to help your child thrive and develop new skills and ways of self-expression.

Our fully licensed therapy team provides pediatric ABA therapy in Lutz and Wesley Chapel, Florida. Contact us today to learn more about our services by filling out our contact form or calling us at (813)-973-1033! 

contact CCAM for ABA therapy services