Applied Behavior Analysis: Basics And Effectiveness Of Treating Autism

What Is Applied Behavior Analysis?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), is the practice of using the core tenets of behaviorism, such as conditioning and learning, to intervene upon, and change an individual’s behavior. As an AB Analyst, you would identify problem behaviors or behavioral deficits that are leading to the individual’s inadequate level of functioning. After you have established the appropriate measurements, you will formulate interventions that are designed specifically for changing a particular behavior in your client. For example, you may conclude that a child begins hitting their head, when they have to do something they don’t want to do, because this behavior results in the child’s parents allowing the child to abstain from the undesired activity. To prevent the child from engaging in this behavior in the future, you instruct the parents to respond to the child hitting their head, by making the child participate in the aversive activity for longer than they had requested of the child initially. Through this process, you would teach the child that hitting their head was not an effective way of avoiding situations, and actually leads to more exposure to aversive situations.

What is Autism?

Autism is a developmental disability that presents difficulties for individuals, regarding social skills, speech, non-verbal communication, and many others. Autism can create significant deficits in one’s functioning. For example, if you had Autism, which made you unable to understand social cues, you might be hurt when a person yells at you for continuing to talk to them, while they are clearly in the middle of taking a test. But as a person with Autism, you might not understand that social convention. Additionally, other errors in communication, may make it difficult for you to express your own thoughts and feelings to others, which may cause you to result to engaging in various problem behaviors, as a means for communicating your feelings, which may not be received well by the other person.

What Does ABA Have To Do With Autism?

While you might think that Applied Behavior Analysis is just a fancy term for the newest parenting method, it can also be used to treat legitimate behavioral disorders. As mentioned earlier, as a person with Autism, experiencing difficulties in communication, you may try to communicate in potentially harmful ways. An Applied Behavior Analyst would be able to understand what you were trying to communicate by engaging in that particular behavior, and then would teach you to communicate that feeling or desire, in a more socially acceptable way that also would be more successful in getting what you want.

ABA’s Efficacy in Treating Autism

In addressing the particular deficits associated with Autism, especially in communication, Applied Behavior Analysis has proven to be the most valuable approach. Due to various difficulties in communication, with individuals with Autism, psychotherapy is often limited in effectiveness. To circumvent the issue of communication, ABA relies on the basic principles of operant conditioning to teach the individual the ideal behaviors. One example of ABA’s effectiveness in treating Autism, is the use of functional analysis to manipulate an individual’s behavior. Functional Analysis is based on the assumption that a person’s behavior is governed by what engaging in a particular behavior provides for them, the function of the behavior.

Why ABA is Essential in Treating Autism

As a parent of a child with Autism, you would likely be very frustrated by your child’s behavior, and that the behavior continued despite your best parenting efforts. The main obstacle to being able to teach your child with Autism, the correct ways to behave, is the communication deficits that are associated with Autism. Your child would have difficulty in both, expressing their thoughts and emotions, and comprehending yours. This lack of communication will create significant tension between you and your child, decreasing everybody’s quality of life. To ease this tension, you would need to hire an Applied Behavior Analyst. The reason that ABA is indispensable in successfully treating Autism, is because it allows communication with your child to occur without relying on areas of social intelligence that your child may be deficient in. Through Applied Behavior Analysis, you will be able to communicate with your child, and your child with you.