Autism is a very real part of our society. One in every 88 children is placed on Autism spectrum and that number grows constantly. While the greater prevalence of children diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorders is concerning, it might be attributed to the fact that medical professionals are becoming more adept at recognizing the signs and getting the child involved in therapy.
Without treatment, the outlook for a child with Autism is bleak. About 35% of people diagnosed with Autism will never hold a job or graduate from college. The earlier that the child receives the diagnoses, and the more proactive the child’s doctors and parents are about getting the child involved in therapy, the more impact the treatment has on the child’s development, and the greater their chances are of leading independent lives.
One common treatment plan for children with Autism is applied behavior analysis therapy (ABA therapy). ABA therapy is a teaching method that reinforces the way that people naturally develop, to encourage a child with Autism to gain new skills, or to discourage harmful behavior.
ABA therapy has shown a lot of success with children with Autism and has become one of the most prominent treatment approaches in the industry. However, it is not without drawbacks (although their is no such thing as a perfect therapy for all kids with Autism). The pros and cons of ABA therapy are listed below:
The Pros and Cons of ABA Therapy
- PRO: ABA therapy is well researched and has a long track record of effectiveness.
ABA therapy has been used to help children with autism since the 70s. In that time, there have been literally hundreds of studies conducted on the usefulness of it. Nearly all of them confirm that ABA is an effective treatment for helping children with autism.
- CON: ABA therapy is labor-intensive and costly.
ABA therapy is designed to be administered to the child for 40 hours every week, over the course of months and years. The cost of employing a full-time ABA therapist to work with a child one-on-one sometimes puts this effective treatment out of reach for families who need it. In fact, most public schools do not have the resources to provide treatment at its “optimal” time frames.
However, children who receive treatment for less than 40 hours a week still achieve positive results. If a child only gets ABA therapy for 20 a week or less, they’ll still reap the benefits, it just might not be as quick.
- PRO: Professionals trained in ABA therapy go through extensive training.
Therapist who work with reputable ABA therapy programs usually have master’s degrees, or higher, which makes them highly equipped to work with the child. Furthermore, the programs that offer ABA therapy have clearly defined processes and strong documentation guidelines, to ensure no child “slips through the cracks.”
- CON: A therapist can claim to use the ABA therapy approach without actually going through the proper training.
Therapists who go through the extensive training to properly conduct ABA therapy are very well prepared to work with children with autism. However, there are no laws or regulations that prevent a autism therapist from claiming to follow the ABA process, without actually having the training or skills to back it up.
Before putting a child in an ABA therapy program, it is the responsibility of the parent to check the credentials of the therapist. Only therapists who have legitimate credentials are certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.
- PRO: ABA programs are designed to be customized to meet the needs of the child.
No child is alike, and this is especially true for children with autism. Autism is a spectrum, which means the symptoms that each child experiences is unique. The tools that are most effective with each child are equally unique. The ABA approach is designed to tailor fit the needs of each child, so they are best equipped to develop socially, academically, or in any other way they particularly need.
By customizing each therapy to the child’s exact set of challenges, ABA therapy is very successful at helping the child gain the life skills they need to be successful.
Parents of children with autism want their kids to have the best chances possible to succeed. ABA therapy is a very successful approach to helping kids do that.