Autism & ABA

What is Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to others, and how they experience the world around them.

ASD affects; social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour as well as imagination. The main features of ASD typically start to develop before a child reaches the age of 3.

Autism is a spectrum condition, meaning that while all people with autism share certain difficulties, the condition affects them differently. On it’s own, autism is not a learning disability or a mental health problem, however some people with autism do have an accompanying learning disability or difficulty.

In the UK, it’s estimated that more than 700,000 people are living with autism, which equates to more than 1 in every 100 people. There is no ‘cure’ for ASD, but early intervention and education can make a huge impact on a persons life. We believe that every child should be entitled to the right support and given the opportunity to reach their full potential and to lead a happy and fulfilling life.

What is Applied Behaviour Analysis?

Behaviour analysis focuses on the principles that explain how learning takes place. Positive reinforcement is one such principle. When behaviour is followed by some sort of reward, the behaviour is more likely to be repeated. Applied behaviour analysis (ABA) is the use of these techniques and principles to bring about meaningful and positive change in behaviour.

Through decades of research, the field of behaviour analysis has developed many techniques for increasing useful behaviours and reducing those that may cause harm or interfere with learning.

Applied behaviour analysis (ABA) is the use of these techniques and principles to bring about meaningful and positive change in behaviour.

O. Ivar Lovaas began working with young children with autism and related disorders in the 1960s at UCLA.. Since that time, a wide variety of ABA techniques have been developed for building useful skills in learners with autism – from toddlers through to adulthood.

These techniques can be used in structured situations such as a classroom lesson as well as in “everyday” situations such as family dinnertime or the neighbourhood playground. Some ABA therapy sessions involve one-on-one interaction between the behaviour analyst and the participant. Group instruction can likewise prove useful.

How Does ABA Benefit Those with Autism?

Today, ABA is widely recognized as the only evidence based and scientifically validated treatment for autism. In particular, ABA principles and techniques can foster basic skills such as looking, listening and imitating, as well as complex skills such as reading, conversing and understanding another person’s perspective.

What Does Research Tell Us About ABA and Autism?

A number of completed studies have demonstrated that ABA techniques produce vast improvements in communication, social relationships, play, self-care and school.

These programs allow children to learn and practice skills in both structured and unstructured situations. The “intensity” of these programs may be particularly important to replicate the thousands of interactions that typical toddlers experience each day while interacting with their parents and peers.

Such studies have demonstrated that many children with autism experience significant improvements in learning, reasoning, communication and adaptability when they participate in high-quality ABA programs. Some pre-schoolers who participate in early intensive ABA for two or more years acquire sufficient skills to participate in regular classrooms with little or no additional support. Other children learn many important skills, but still need additional educational support to succeed in a classroom.

Important variables for a successful ABA programme include:

• Treatment in the child’s natural environment
• Intensive intervention
• Qualified staff training and management
• Parental involvement in every aspect
• Evaluation of progress