Blog Category : ABA

How Much ABA?

Written by Luis Vera

 

At The SEED Center, our mission is to provide positively impact the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorder, ​therapeutic services that both across the spectrum and across their lifespan.

Whether this is your first time researching an ABA provider or your fourth or fifth time (we hope and believe this we’ll be your last stop), a frequent question that comes to mind for a lot of caregivers is “how much ABA is enough? How many hours of ABA does my child need?” The answer to that, as with many things in life, is: it depends. What I can tell you though, without hesitation, is that in the majority of cases, anything less than 10 hours a week of ABA treatment, say 1 hour a week, could/should be considered glorified babysitting.

Why do I say that? Well, think about it, if your child has multiple goals that need to be worked on across various developmental domain​s and​ for just ​one ​of those goals it could honestly take hundreds of learning trials for your child to achieve true mastery of that skill. It is very unrealistic that 1 hour a week of ABA could achieve that level of progress. Essentially, determining the ideal treatment dosage of ABA therapy for your child is a complex decision, composed of many factors that have to be considered.

Per the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), “ABA treatment programs for ASD incorporate findings from hundreds of applied studies focused on understanding and treating ASD published in peer-reviewed journals over 50 years. Treatment may vary in terms of intensity and duration, the complexity and range of treatment goals, and the extent of direct treatment provided. Many variables, including the number, complexity, and intensity of behavioral targets and the client’s response to treatment help determine which model is most appropriate. Although existing on a continuum, these differences can be generally categorized as one of two treatment models: Focused or Comprehensive ABA Treatment.”

According to the guide ‘​Applied Behavior Analysis Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder​’ published by the BACB, the attempt to answer how many hours of ABA therapy is described as “an analysis of multiple variables, such as the intensity of treatment goals, client needs & severity of deficits, and client response to treatment. A range of 10-25 hours/week for focused treatment and 30-40 hours/week for comprehensive treatment is recommended.” In other words, treatment dosage is based on medical necessity.

What’s the difference between Focused and Comprehensive Treatment, besides how many hours my child is being serviced?

According to the BACB, determinations as to whether ABA treatment should be focused or comprehensive and the intensity of treatment should be based on the ​medical necessity​ of the treatment for each learner rather than the individual’s chronological age, duration or nature of previous ABA services.

The following is an excerpt from an update to the guide published in February 2019 by the BACB that highlights the distinction between Focused and Comprehensive treatment.

 

INTENSITY OF TREATMENT

The Guidelines note that treatment intensity (sometimes referred to as dosage) typically comprises both the number of hours of direct treatment per week and the total duration of treatment. The comments that follow focus primarily on the number of hours of treatment per week.

Focused ABA Treatment is described in the Guidelines as”…treatment provided directly to the client for a limited number of behavioral targets[functional skills, problem behaviors].” Intensity levels in a range of 10-25 hours per week are mentioned, with the caveat that the intensity may need to be higher depending on the nature of the target behaviors and other considerations, individualized to each client. For instance, behaviors that put the client and/or others at risk of harm may well warrant high-intensity focused ABA treatment for some period of time. Those may include maladaptive behaviors to be reduced and/or adaptive behaviors that need to be developed or strengthened in order to enhance the client’s health, safety, and overall functioning.

Comprehensive ABA Treatment  is described as “…treatment of the multiple affected developmental domains, such as cognitive, communicative, social, emotional, and adaptive functioning” as well as maladaptive behaviors. The Guidelines state that intensity levels of 30-40 hours per week are common and necessary to achieve meaningful improvements in a large number of treatment targets. The Guidelines emphasize, however, that the intensity of comprehensive treatment must be individualized to the client’s characteristics and other factors. To expand on those points, we note that analyses of data from multiple studies of comprehensive ABA treatment for children with ASD show that

Whether ABA treatment is focused or comprehensive, the guidelines make it clear that treatment is comprised of services delivered directly to the child based on medical necessity which is pinpointed to the needs of every individual. In circling back to the original questions of “how much ABA is enough? How many hours of therapy does my child need?” the answer is not that simple, it depends…..on the medical necessity of your child.

 

References:

BACB Guidelines


Tips to Prevent Bolting

Young girl running down sidewalkPhoto by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

Running and Bolting

Having a child that runs or bolts can be terrifying for a parent. When a child takes off it can be nerve-racking to think of the outcomes of their ‘bolting’ and ‘running’ behavior. Are they going to run into the street? Will they run out of the building? Are they going to take off with a stranger? The child may be ‘bolting’ for multiple reasons, she may want attention, she may want to avoid an activity, or she may seek a more stimulating environment. As parents, teachers, and caregivers, we must understand how to appropriately react to a child that runs. The best strategy is to avoid situations that permit the child to runoff, however, if this is not possible, we must minimize the amount of attention the child receives. If we give a child attention for undesirable behaviors, like running off, we are encouraging and rewarding the behavior. This means the child is likely to continue their habit of running off.

Prevent the Situation

The best way to stop running and bolting is to prevent the situation. Do whatever you can to keep the child in the classroom, house, car, etc. Once the child steps out of the safe space the chances of her bolting and running off will increase. When she runs off, it is likely that your instincts will be to chase after her. However, chasing after the child will only reinforce the behavior and increase the chances of her running off again. Although at times, it will be impossible to not chase after a child, especially if her safety is at risk. If she does end up bolting, try not to give her a lot of attention. Once you are able to reach her, calmly walk her back to the room. Also, avoid talking or lecturing her, as this will give her the desired attention, and avoid eye contact. Have the child return to the activity that she was working on before bolting.
 
If you are in a school environment, be familiar with all the building exits and have a plan with fellow staff members and security guards to prepare for a bolting situation. Again, hopefully, the bolting situation will be avoided, but if it occurs you are much better off to prepare to appropriately handle it.
 
For more resources on how to help handle different situations with your child, view our resources.


Benefits of an Early Autism Diagnosis

father reading to his childLuckily, the age children are receiving autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnoses is becoming younger and younger. Some children are getting diagnosed as early as 18 months. The earlier a child receives an autism diagnosis, the better. Once a child receives a diagnosis, she can start receiving autism treatment by getting Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (Early Intervention) and Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA).

Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention programs entail just that, early intervention that is intensive. Early intervention programs are commonly referred to as ‘birth to three’ programs because they service children that have a ASD diagnosis that are three years of age or younger. These programs are intensive and can range from 25-40 hours a week. Research supports that receiving 25-40 hours of services a week is the most effective treatment for children with ASD. Early intervention programs usually include ABA principles, such as, shaping, prompting, and reinforcement.  In addition, The SEED Center also offers intensive ABA therapy to supplement or in lieu of early intervention services at our state of the art autism treatment center.

25-40 hours a week for an 18-month year old child? Doesn’t that seem excessive?

That is not an uncommon or unfair question for parents to ask once they are recommended to enroll their child in Early Intervention programs. However, these intensive programs are very important to help bridge the gap between a child with ASD and one of their peers without ASD. Having your child learn skills early on will benefit her in the long run.

Autism is a life-long prognosis. The earlier a child begins autism treatment, the better the outcome. Nobody regrets helping his or her child earlier rather than later. Please email us at info@nullseed-center.websitepro.hosting if you have any questions about autism diagnosis or intensive ABA therapy.   Our skilled professionals are here to help you and your child!

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

Functional-Unique-Natural, FUN!

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

Why is ABA FUN?

  1. Functional

ABA focuses on creating goals that are functional to the child. In other words, this means that goals focus on aspects of the child’s day-to-day life that are important to them. So a functional goal for a child who frequently goes to the grocery store with his mother, may be to have him work towards learning how to act appropriately in a store setting.

 

  1. Unique

In addition to functional goals, ABA therapy considers that each child has unique interests. Children all have their preference of food, toys, activities, etc. Therefore, if you find out your child loves watermelon, you maybe able to use this as a reward for good behavior. If you tell your child that they will receive watermelon after completing a homework assignment, they will most likely be motivated to complete the task.

 

  1. Natural

Finally, ABA therapy aims to have children be able to apply learned skills to their natural environment. How is this done? Therapists teach behavior skills in a controlled environment, such as The SEED Center, and they teach the children how to generalize these behavior skills in their natural environment. The ultimate goal is to have children be able to use these skills in all types of environments, such as, home, school, playground, etc.

 


ABA Communication Techniques Elaborated

children reading together outside

As previously discussed, echoics, intraverbals, mands, and tacts are all common ABA techniques to teach communication! Remember, the ultimate goal is not only to have your child be able to communicate with you, but with peers, teachers, and other people your child may interact with.

Echoics

Echoics are the fundamentals of language and allow your child to learn by repeating what they hear. These demonstrate basic communication and as your child learns, you will be able to increase the conversation length and have more in-depth communication.

Intraverbals

As mentioned before, these demonstrate your child’s ability to respond to questions involving something that is not physically there. This will allow your child to answer questions, such as, their parents names, phone number, etc.

Mands

By learning mands, a child will be able to request a need or a want. This will teach them how to communicate that they are hunger, thirsty, hurt, tired, etc. Also, mands teach a child how to appropriately ask for things or to communicate desires.

Tacts

Tacts, or labels, teach your child how to identify objects in their environment. This allows your child to identify things they want. Also, tacts give you the ability to understand their requests.

 

These techniques focus on teaching communication in a way that works best for the learner. The goal is to have your child be able to communicate their wants, needs, and ideas and how that goal is achieved should be individualized in a way that best suits the learner.

 

For more information, please contact The SEED Center.

 

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

 


ABA Therapy at The SEED Center Encompasses Individualized Treatment Plans and Takes the Environment into Consideration

         Photo by pan xiaozhen on Unsplash 

                Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is scientifically proven to be the most effective treatment for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ABA therapy takes into consideration that treatment needs to be individualized. Also, ABA considers that environment influences a person’s behavior.

Individualized Treatment Plans

           One reason that ABA therapy is effective is due to modifying treatment plans for each individual. Interventions differ from person-to-person based on their interests, their needs, and their skills. Therapists constantly monitor the success of the intervention plan by collecting data. If the data show the intervention to be ineffective, then the therapist can alter the intervention plan. Modifying the plan ensures that the individual is receiving the most effective treatment.

Environmental Influences

          ABA considers the environment to influence a person’s behavior. ABA does not support the idea of “changing a person”. Rather, ABA focuses on changing the environment surrounding an individual. This indicates that changing the environment will change the behavior of the individual. Therefore, the environment can be altered to increase positive behavior and reduce negative behaviors.

          If you have any questions about individualized treatment plans, environmental influences, or ABA therapy in general, please contact The SEED Center via phone or email at info@nullseed-center.websitepro.hosting. Our professionals are happy to answer any questions you may have!


The Importance of Parent and Family Member Involvement at The SEED Center

                Parents, family members, and significant others play a significant role in the success of ABA intervention. The therapist should not be the only one conducting ABA intervention. Family members, teachers, siblings, and anyone else that interacts with the individual, needs to use ABA strategies to ensure that the efforts are consistent. Remember it is important that all of these strategies are overseen by your child’s Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) to ensure they are effective. Also, this will help the individual generalize and learn how to behave appropriately in a variety of settings outside the interaction with the therapist. Having supportive family members and friends who consistently use the strategies of ABA will provide the utmost support for the individual. This will help the individual become more independent and meet their goals!

 

 


The Basics of ABA

       Applied Behavior Analysis, commonly referred to as ABA, consists of individualized interventions. Based on analysis, ABA ensures that all interventions are effective and functional to each individual. There are some useful strategies to note when applying ABA to individuals with autism. We will highlight self-management, reinforcement, structured teaching, and prompts.

  • Self-management is the ability to be independent. Most ABA interventions consist of techniques and goals to help individuals with ASD learn how to be independent throughout daily life.
  • Reinforcement is one of the most common techniques of ABA. Behavior that is followed by a preferable outcome will likely to reoccur in the future. Let’s take a quick moment to differentiate between positive and negative reinforcement.
    • Positive reinforcement-when the outcome is something given (giving your child praise, a reward)
    • Negative reinforcement– when the outcome results in taking something away. (Does not mean punishment, could be taking away a certain chore for good behavior, etc.)
  • Structured Teaching aims to breakdown the teaching of skills like communication, self-care, scholarly, and social skills. This allows the therapist to give as much structure to teaching these skills as needed, depending on the needs of each individual.
  • Prompts are another strategy used in ABA therapy to help individuals with autism follow a sequence of actions. These prompts can help children become more independent and can consist of a set of actions such as, steps to brushing your teeth or folding laundry.

Stay tuned for more information about ABA and how it can be utilized to improve lives. Also, be sure to check out our ‘Resources’ tab to learn more!


Science-based Treatments for Autism

         For many conditions, including autism, scientific evidence and data are used to ensure that the treatment methods are working successfully.  Applied Behavior Analysis is the most scientifically proven method for treating individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

 

Advice from Friends and Family

          It is not surprising that there are many theories, opinions, and ideas to treat autism that do not involve science-based treatment methods. Friends and family may voice their opinions about a new theory they heard and it’s benefits. They can hear these theories on the news or from an Internet search because journalists continue to publish information on non-scientific treatment methods for ASD. It can be hard to listen to the advice of family members and friends who have your best intentions, when they do not understand that these new theories typically are not science-based. Sometimes you may perceive the advice as critical; perhaps a family member is making you feel as if you’re not doing enough for your child. Hearing the opinions of others while trying to keep your child’s best interest at heart can become very frustrating.

 

Inform and Educate on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

        When hearing the advice and opinions of others leaves you questioning your decisions or doubting yourself…

 

  • Remember that these ‘breakthrough’ treatments for autism are not scientifically proven to be effective.
  • Numerous scientific researches have been published supporting the use of ABA therapy.
  • Autism-treatment is an expensive industry; many claims are made in hopes of helping a company ‘sell’ their product.
  • Be critical and question everything you read on the Internet. Not everything on the Internet is reliable.
  • The vast majority of autism treatments lack scientific support.
  • The most effective treatments for autism usually receive the least amount of attention from the media (news, journals, Internet searches).
  • There is no “quick fix”.

What is ABA?

Applied Behavior Analysis, commonly referred to as ABA, is scientifically supported to be the most effective treatment for children with autism. ABA interventions focus on using behavioral reinforcement. Behavioral reinforcement teaches your child appropriate behavior for different circumstances that they may encounter.

Remember to keep in mind that every child is unique and there is not one specific ABA treatment that will work well for every child. That is why Behavior Therapists use a variety of interventions to figure out the technique that works effectively for each child. Once the effective technique has been identified, therapists can cater the treatment to suit the child.

What are some examples of ABA Techniques?

  • Discrete Trial Training
    • Aims to train your child on skills they may not otherwise pick up. This is used to increase motivation, attention span, social skills, and verbal behavior.
  • Differential Reinforcement
    • Teaches your child appropriate behaviors for various social environments such as school, home, or recess. This works to help your child realize a behavior might be acceptable in one environment (home) but not in another (school).
  • Extinction
    • This technique encourages parents, therapists, or teachers to avoid reacting to a child who is demonstrating challenging or negative behaviors, such as a tantrum. This technique was discussed in the previous blog and is essential for parents to remember that if you show your child attention when they are illustrating bad behavior, you are giving them the attention they want.
  • Foundational Communication
    • Communication is key to understanding your child’s needs and wants. Some children may have trouble communicating verbally and some may not be able to read body language. It is important to figure out a method, whether verbal or non-verbal, to communicate with your child.