An ABA program takes the form of a highly structured program and is individualised and designed around the age and skills of the child. Evidence shows that the earlier a child begins intervention the better the outcome. An ABA program is typically aimed at children between 2 and 6 years of age, ideally before they have started school. However, ABA can be effective for older children as well as adults. ABA aims to develop receptive and expressive language skills and to promote the use of these skills in a social context, by teaching skills in a one-on-one therapy setting which the child can generalise and apply the skills learnt to everyday life.
The overall goal of a language-based ABA program is to equip students so they can acquire the skills necessary to be successful in more typical classroom settings. Then the goal is to gradually reduce or eliminate the individualized support. In other words, we’re teaching children the foundation skills they need to respond accurately and appropriately in a group setting, skills that most typically developing children already have by the time they enter kindergarten.
An ABA program can vary in terms of the number of hours and usually involves 2-3 hours each morning and afternoon, and is generally spread across 5 days a week. Some parents, after an initial period of training do some of the therapy hours themselves whilst other families employ therapist. The Federal Government’s “Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) funding can be used towards ABA therapy.
There are many benefits in Speech therapist and ABA professionals collaborating and consulting with each other when working with a child. Whilst the basis of ABA programming is to develop receptive and expressive language in social contexts, Speech therapists will provide appropriate speech and language targets factoring in any articulation and phonological issues the child may have, as well as identifying appropriate vocabulary selection, and offer assessment and training related to augmented communication systems. Benefits of collaboration between professionals results in more opportunities for ongoing assessment of treatment goals.
In the final part of this introduction to ABA, I'll discuss the scientific evidence that supports ABA Therapy. In the meantime if you have questions please call me on 0411 409 749.