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What Is Applied Behavior Analysis And Is It Right For You?

Applied behavior analysis, or ABA, is a form of therapy. Those who practice this form of therapy assist their clients to improve the behaviors that are holding them back. It’s commonly used to assist those on the autism spectrum but can also assist those struggling with changes caused by aging.

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Measurable Goals, Notable Outcomes

Every human being struggles with change and connection. Both are risky; even if you’re not happy with your current situation, the risk of change means that you could extend yourself to try something different and end up in a worse situation.

Those receiving therapy from an ABA specialist will get a plan to

  • figure out what needs to change
  • create goals for the outcome you want
  • determine how to measure the changes
  • set the baseline for where you are now
  • learn a new skillset
  • review your path
  • consider new modifications that can help you go even further

The targets for your change may need to flex, but you will understand them fully. The path for your goals will be carefully laid out. For example, if part of your change is to become better at communication and build more friendships, you may undergo role-playing communications to help you be more empathetic. You may need to keep a journal of your daily activities with an eye toward your new behaviors and any outcomes that surprise you.


ABA and Autism

Many people on the autism spectrum struggle to understand the feelings and emotions of others. As such, they may appear to lack empathy and struggle to build friendships or avoid conflict. Additionally, those on the spectrum may have physical tics or habits that increase their separation, such as hand movements or the avoidance of eye contact.

An ABA specialist with proper training and the best applied behavior analysis masters degree will likely use positive reinforcement, such as a reward, to assist the client to learn better behavioral options.


ABCs of Applied Behavior Analysis: Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence

For someone on the autism spectrum who struggles to understand how their behavior impacts others, the use of ABC can make a huge difference. For example, children can struggle to understand the importance of cooperation.

If the antecedent, or trigger action, is for the adult to give an instruction to put on pajamas, the child may become fully resistant and refuse, continuing to use a toy or watch a video. This behavior will need to be responded to so the child understands the consequences. At that point, the adult may collect the toy or take away the screen physically to remove the option to resist.

A child on the autism spectrum will likely be given a plan to allow them to tackle their particular challenge. If they struggle to verbalize their requests for more time with a toy or video, their goal may be to politely request more time. This new behavior could be met with agreement and the setting of a timer to help the child better manage their reaction to the next instruction.


A Wide Variety of Applications

ABA therapy and the ABC process can be used as a way to improve many facets of the child’s life into adulthood. From better communication to regular hygiene activities, someone on the autism spectrum can learn to be better at the actions of daily living with others and get more enjoyment out of life.

The inability to empathize and connect with others is a form of social auto-cannibalization that can lead to a life of dangerous loneliness and isolation. If you aren’t sure what to say and you don’t speak, you likely won’t get a response. Finding a therapist who can help you to reach out in a way that invites others in can help many on the spectrum enjoy socialization and make healthy connections.

Of course, ABA therapy practices can be put in place to help anyone who wants to make a measurable change in their life experience. Figure out the problem and the improved goal. Create a path to get there and reinforce the good behaviors that get you moving in the right direction. Find a fully certified ABA therapist to help you make the corrections your path requires.

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