by Whitney Sarnowski
We’ve all heard about this trendy practiced called Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) but what is it and why is ABA important? ABA is an evidence-based practice used to improve socially significant human behavior and enhance people’s lives. Socially significant behaviors include: social skills, language and communication, daily living, academic, vocational, and leisure behaviors that improve the individual’s daily living or effect their significant others (caregivers, teachers, peers, employers) by interacting more positively towards the individual. Ring a bell? I know what you’re thinking, “How can one program possibly cover all these areas?” Easy. A well rounded ABA program should be applied, analytic, behavioral, conceptually systematic, effective, technological and capable of generalized outcomes.Still not convinced? Lets break it down.
1 . SOCIAL SKILLS
It’s no secret that individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) need to be taught appropriate social skills. ABA uses evidence-based strategies to teach individuals on the spectrum how to appropriately interact with others and replace socially inappropriate behaviors with alternative behaviors that will make the individual more successful in his/her day-to-day life.
2 . LANGUAGE AND COMMUNICATION SKILLS
If you’re not already aware, Individual’s with autism often have difficulty with language and communication skills. These skills can range from difficulty communicating needs, wants, and interests appropriately to engaging with their environment; labeling or receptively identifying the world around them. ABA uses a variety of scientifically based intervention methods to support the acquisition of language and communication skills for those with ASD.
Often times people take washing their hands, taking a shower, going to the restroom, tying their shoes, brushing their teeth, etc., for granted. Some individuals with autism need to be taught several of these skill and many many more. ABA aides in teaching daily living skills through individualized interventions that are tailored to the individual’s needs.
4. ACADEMIC SKILLS
Individuals on the spectrum can struggle academically, too. Anywhere from reading to writing to math to gym class, you name it. ABA utilizes scientifically sound strategies and interventions that can be easily implemented in the classroom as well as in-home with proper training from a certified professional.
5. VOCATIONAL SKILLS
Some individual’s on the autism spectrum may benefit from receiving support in the area of vocational skills. Living independently, maintaining a job, budgeting finances, and dating can all be considered vocational skills. ABA can provide supports for vocational skills through a range of research-based methodologies and interventions. Keep in mind, the earlier the individual begins ABA, the sooner he/she will experience gains.
6 . LEISURE ACTIVITIES
Leisure activities is pinnacle for individuals with ASD. Similar to you and I, interests vary among individuals with autism. At times, individuals on the spectrum need to be taught how to appropriately watch a movie, play with toys, play turn-taking games, etc. ABA can help facilitate these skills by teaching individuals on the spectrum how to appropriately engage in such activities.
This blog was originally posted on The Spectrum Compass. Be sure to visit the link for more input regarding ABA, Early Intervention, & Resources.
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About Our Guest Blogger:
Whitney is the co-founder of The Spectrum Compass. She has her M.Ed in Special Education and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Whitney used to teach children on the spectrum but stopped teaching when her son was born (what a gift she was given!). She is beyond grateful to be a work from home mother and is continuing her work with ASD by working towards a national certification. Whitney is passionate about shining a light on ASD to the world and providing information that is difficult and at times impossible to find.