• Eunice Chan

Behaviour Therapy (ABA)

Updated: Apr 19, 2021

What is ABA?

ABA is based upon more than 50 years of scientific investigations with individuals affected by a wide range of behavioural and developmental disorders. ABA is a behaviour modification technique that is based on the principles of conditioning, the goal is to reduce or eliminate 'unwanted' behaviours and positively introduce socially significant behaviours. Research has shown ABA to be effective in teaching commonly deficient skills such as communication, social play and self-help skills. The objective of ABA depends largely on your child's individual needs. However, ABA often results in children:

  • displaying awareness of the environment and people around them

  • effective reciprocal communication

  • requesting for needs (e.g learning to ask for toy/food)

  • ability to focus in a school setting

  • reduction in self-harm behaviours

  • having fewer self-stimulatory behaviours

Why ABA?

As children with Autism process information differently, they require a different approach to be taught. Necessary skills must be simplified to finite steps for the person to learn the skill thoroughly. ABA intervention is a highly effective and recommended intervention approach. ABA aims to use evidence-based techniques to decrease undesirable behaviours and increase desired behaviours. Due to the unique learning nature, children with Autism require intensive one to one therapy(35 hours or more per week) to achieve optimal results. Based on the child’s progress, the number of hours of interventionrequired would vary too. Eventually, the child can move from intensive one to one to groups settings to build on their social skills. Another essential factor in ABA intervention is the customized programming. Each child will have a program tailored to their learning needs. Firstly, their areas of skills deficits need to be identified. After which, an intervention plan will be developed. A detailed curriculum, implemented and monitored by the program manager, will ensure that the child is making good progress.

How does ABA benefit my child?

Individualised Educational Plan

At littlefoot our case supervisors are uniquely qualified to observe, listen to and communicate with children diagnosed with autism. As a result we are able to structure and design an individualized educational plan catering to each unique child and their needs. ABA therapists can help improve social impaired behaviours such as self-help skills, peer interaction and emotional regulation. By bridging the gap for these impairments, our behavior therapists aim to enable special needs children to facilitate independence in school and daily life.

Management of negative behaviours

Children with autism often have difficulty in developing social and communication skills. For example, they may lack in eye contact, have trouble using language to communicate their needs or engage in repetitive self stimulatory behaviours such as spinning or flapping their hands. As such these children often face challenges in assimilating in society.

ABA therapy teaches a child how to manage and regulate challenging behaviours. Through the use of visuals and reinforcement of positive behaviours ABA aims to internalize meaningful and lasting change in children on the autismspectrum. We believe the most effective practice of ABA therapy is through the use of effortless learning techniques (e.g. visuals in school and minimal prompting) to minimize frustrations in an efficient way.

Encouragement of independent daily skills

As ABA therapy is individualized to each unique child it is important to incorporate functional skills to foster independence into adulthood. Successful ABA therapy aids in developing language skills, ability for independent self care and maintaining appropriate social skills and awareness in school and with peers. Though early intervention from ages 18 months to 5 years has proven to be the most effective, behavior therapy may also help adolescents and adults on the autism spectrum to help increase independent daily living skills. At Littlefoot, the incorporation of family, caregiver and school teacher training is emphasized. Our therapists help implement behavior management skills and establish daily skill programs, thereby creating consistent engagement throughout the child's day to day.

Leads to a Reduced Need for Services

As children with autism continue on their ABA journey, the target is to eventually fade off therapy and handover to the parents. Once contingencies are established, parents are encouraged to implement the same management strategies to facilitate generalization of skills learnt. Ideally with these generalized skills, the ABA therapists are able to shift focus from support and supervision of behavior management to encouraging independence. The end goal will be for individuals with autism spectrum to retain independence and autonomy without the supervision of their therapists.

Is ABA only for Autism?

When we hear the term applied behavior analysis (ABA), we often think of autism spectrum disorder because ABA is used to treat autistic patients, but many other conditions also benefit from applied behaviour analysis. ABA is a type of therapy used to treat and improve certain behaviours, such as communication, social skills, poor academics and similar psychological disorders. ABA is used on both adults and children and in various settings, including homes, school, clinics, and workplaces.

©2019 by Littlefoot Developmental Services.