What is ABA Therapy?
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy is a system centered on the science of learning and behavior in real-life scenarios. The idea behind ABA therapy is that it can help us understand how children learn, how childhood behaviors work, and how the environment can affect a child’s behavior. Ultimately, the goal is to encourage behaviors that help children learn and reduce behaviors that are detrimental to learning.
What is the Objective of ABA Therapy Programs?
Typical goals of an ABA therapy program include increasing the use of language and spoken communication, improving focus and concentration, and reducing the use of problem behaviors. The goal may focus on acquiring a specific skill set (such as a new language or the attention and memory needed for academics and homework) as well acquiring holistic life skills (such as improving social interaction with other children).
How Does ABA Therapy Work?
ABA therapy is a flexible treatment. Practitioners adapt the approach to meet the unique needs of each child. Common principles of ABA therapy include the following:
- Positive Reinforcement – A person begins to associate good behaviors with a reward or pleasant experience
- Antecedent, Behavior, and Consequence (ABC) – A person develops an understanding of what occurs before (antecedent) a targeted behavior and the consequence of the behavior (cause and effect)
How Can a Child Get Started with ABA Therapy?
A board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA) designs and manages the ABA therapy program. The BCBA considers the child’s needs and parent’s preferences to create a custom treatment plan. After a detailed initial assessment, goals for a treatment plan may include some of the following:
- Increased communication and language
- Improved social skills
- Consistent self-care (toileting, brushing teeth)
- Imaginative play
- Improved motor skills (gross motor and fine motor)
- Increased academic ability
BCBAs undergo an intensive vetting process that includes earning a master’s or PhD in psychology or behavior analysis, passing a national certification exam, and receiving a state licensure to practice. An ABA therapy program may also include registered behavior technician (RBT) who works under the supervision of a BCBA during therapy sessions. The BCBA and RBT collect data during each session to produce progress reports that measure a child’s improvement over time.
Is ABA Therapy Covered by Insurance?
All Medicaid plans cover therapy that are deemed medically necessary for children under age 21. This means that if a pediatrician prescribes ABA therapy and says it is medically necessary for your child, Medicaid must cover the cost. Many private insurers cover ABA therapy as well.
For more information on ABA therapy programs for your child, contact The Warren Center.