Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) refers to the scientific approach of psychological principles of learning theory to understanding and modifying someone’s way of acting. ABA principles help learn:

  • How behaviors alter
  • How behaviors change as a result of environmental impact
  • How learning works.
Applied Behavior Analysis treatment for autism helps ASD children.

In this article, we are talking about ABA therapy that helps apply insight on the behaviors; for instance, it aids in modifying, teaching, and improving helpful behaviors while reducing harmful behaviors or affecting the patient’s learning process. The sole goal of this therapy is to teach and modify behavior to make it socially acceptable and significant. The expected results are:

  1. Enhancing attention, focus, skills, memory, and academic performance.
  2. Improving communication and language skills.
  3. Lessening and eliminating problematic behaviors.

Read the article to find out how these goals are achieved with ABA therapy, what the treatment may involve, what the benefits are, and how to increase the effectiveness of the therapy.

Get a free online consultation

Contact us to learn how stem cell therapy can increase the effectiveness of ABA therapy, what the expected results are, what the treatment involves, and the cost and duration.

Dr. Aleksandra Fetyukhina, MD

Medical Advisor, Swiss Medica doctor


How does ABA therapy work?

Being a flexible treatment, applied behavior analysis involves a lot of diverse techniques for understanding and altering certain behaviors. Reinforcing behaviors is the most effective way to reinforce appropriate behavior in ABA therapy. It helps encourage the frequency of positive behavior.

There are two kinds of ABA reinforcements.

1. Positive reinforcement. This involves encouraging positive behavior through reward, which increases the chances of repeating that behavior. The meaningful reward helps the individual make a permanent positive behavior change and encourages them to keep using the skill.

2. Negative reinforcement. In negative reinforcement, the things or attitudes that evoke the negative behavior in an individual are avoided. This approach helps eliminate the socially unacceptable behaviors of patients having autism.

Since 1968, when the term ‘applied behavior analysis’ first appeared with the foundation of the journal of the same name, ABA has gained many followers, and here are some reasons why:

  • ABA therapy activities can be adapted to meet the specific needs of the person;
  • It can be offered in several locations like school, home, and community;
  • The skills help improve everyday life, including social and communication skills;
  • Can either be taught individually or instructed in groups.

Despite the fact that ABA is considered as one of the most effective therapies for autistic persons, it faces the ethical concerns of both parents of children with autism and specialists in the field.

ABA is the most researched and scientifically proven therapy that helps learn healthy skills, especially for autism and other neurodegenerative diseases.

What does an ABA program involve?

Quality ABA autism programs do not follow any strict rules. In this kind of treatment for autism, specific interventions are adopted for meeting the particular needs of the individuals.

This therapy helps in learning effective behaviors that play a crucial role in the future life of the individual — making them confident and successful for life ahead.Aside from ABA therapy, some parents may also try home therapy for their children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) without leaving home. This will help them retain their acquired skills and not return to their destructive behavior between visits to the therapist.

Functional Behavior Analysis

The most used technique in ABA treatment for autism is functional behavior analysis. In this treatment, a qualified and trained behavior analyst (BCBA) observes all the ways of acting of the patient in their natural environment.

The behavior analyst then drafts a complete intervention plan, or BIP, specific for the individual’s skills, needs, interests, preferences, and family situations. This information is useful for writing treatment goals in line with family goals and preferences.

Goals of the ABA therapy

The treatment goals of applied behavior analysis in autism are also influenced by the person’s capability, ASD stage, and age. Some common goals of ABA therapy are:

  • Improving social skills like communication, social, and language skills;
  • Teaching maintenance behaviors like self-regulation and self-care skills;
  • Help understand how to play and leisure;
  • Improving motor skills;
  • Help enhance academic and learning skills;
  • Avoiding negative behaviors like self-harm or biting others, ignoring requests, etc.
ABA activities help to improve the child’s behavior and, ultimately, his or her interaction with the family.

The expert breaks down the goals into smaller achievable steps and instructs them one at a time, taking it from simple (e.g., imitating single sounds) to more complex behaviors (e.g., continuing a conversation).

The BCBA and the therapists measure progress regularly to track the progress and review what needs to be altered or improved to move forward.

The behavior analyst also has sessions with the family to understand complications and limitations they are experiencing during the treatment and review the progress. These sessions help set and adjust goals for a better outcome.

ABA techniques and philosophy

This treatment technique for autism involves a variety of strategies and procedures to match the unique needs of ASD individuals. Some of these techniques are:

Discrete Training Program

In this ABA autism program, the behavior analyst breaks down complex attitudes into smaller aspects and works on those elements separately to build the desired behavior.

Pivotal Response Treatment

PRT involves a holistic examination of impulses and responsiveness in the patient, rather than working on specific behaviors.

WNatural Environment Training

TNET uses a reward system and desired actions to create a natural and permanent behavioral response pattern.

Philosophy

Applied behavior analysis autism focuses on a person’s behavior because of environmental consequences or stimuli. Particularly, it identifies the trigger of an action and its consequence later, determining the probability of that response to happen in the future.

Benefits of ABA therapy programs for autism

Applied behavior therapy programs for autism are highly beneficial for not just the person but family and community because:

  1. It is the most researched and effective intervention and treatment for ASD individuals.
  2. It helps teach parents how to be their best versions for their children with ASD.
  3. It helps develop skills in autistic children that help them in their daily lives.
  4. ABA helps individuals learn their strengths and use them to live a quality independent life without the help of their caregivers.
  5. It helps them learn how to communicate and socialize among friends, families, and loved ones.
  6. It empowers parents to recognize and capitalize on their child’s strengths and preferences.
  7. It empowers ASD individuals to be their own advocates.
ABA techniques help improve communication in persons with autism.

Who provides applied therapy and behavior services?

Applied therapy and behavior services are provided by a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA). A BCBA is a qualified specialist who:

  • Has master’s degree or PhD in psychology or behavior analysis
  • Passed national certification exam
  • Got state’s license for practicing

Along with BCBA, therapists and registered behavior technicians (RBTs) are also involved in the treatment. They are trained and supervised by the BCBA to work together towards achieving the desired positive behaviors in the individual.

When should you stop the ABA therapy?

Once your child starts grasping the behaviors, the BCBA suggests limiting the therapy hours until it’s time to stop completely.

Limiting the therapy hours slowly and progressively helps both the child and the family transition easily. Occasionally, BCBA also involves the child in this decision-making process to know the child’s insight. Sometimes an ASD child’s opinion can prove very beneficial.

However, in many cases, ABA services for autism cannot be discontinued forever.

Typically, it may take years before you can stop ABA for your child.

How does stem cell treatment increase the effect of ABA therapy in autism?

Since stem cell therapy for autism improves overall regulation of the immune system and the neural connectivity within the brain, it’s highly recommended by our specialists to combine it with ABA therapy, for it will help your ASD child improve social interaction, communication, and other challenging behaviors rather easier and faster.

At Swiss Medica, we only use adult mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), donated mostly from the placenta and/or Wharton’s jelly. At the moment, treatment is mostly provided at the Serbian branch of the clinic.Also, the medical team can come to the client’s location for the treatment, bringing along all the necessary equipment and specialists. You can have a look at the stem cell treatment procedure on our website to have a complete understanding of the procedure.

*Not all patients may see improvements following treatment. Stem cell treatment should not be seen as a guaranteed cure. Additional medical and non-medical therapies are supplemented as needed. This ensures the best chances for patient improvement.

Get a free online consultation

Contact us to learn how stem cell therapy can increase the effectiveness of ABA therapy, what the expected results are, what the treatment involves, and the cost and duration.

Dr. Aleksandra Fetyukhina, MD

Medical Advisor, Swiss Medica doctor


List of References

  1. Efficacy of Interventions Based on Applied Behavior Analysis for Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Meta-Analysis. Qian Yu, Enyao Li, Liguo Li, Weiyi Liang. Psychiatry Investig. 2020 May;17(5):432-443. doi: 10.30773/pi.2019.0229.

  2. Ethical Concerns with Applied Behavior Analysis for Autism Spectrum “Disorder”. Daniel A Wilkenfeld, Allison M McCarthy. Kennedy Inst Ethics J. 2020;30(1):31-69. Doi: 10.1353/ken.2020.0000.

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