Behaviour Therapy For Children
A form of behavioural therapy called ABA (applied behavioural analysis) is increasingly used to help children with autism.
ABA focuses on the principles that explain how learning takes place eg positive reinforcement. When a behaviour is followed by some sort of reward, the behaviour is more likely to be repeated. Through decades of research, the field of behaviour analysis has developed many techniques for increasing useful behaviours and reducing those that may cause harm or interfere with learning.
Applied behaviour analysis (ABA) is the use of these techniques and principles to bring about meaningful and positive change in behaviour.
ABA techniques are generally implemented via a bespoke ABA programme (see below). If a full programme is not suited to your circumstances, then guidance can be given to target and alleviate behaviours that are causing specific difficulties at home or in school.
Bespoke ABA programmes provide intensive teaching for children. Typically this will initially take place in the child’s home before gradually extending into the nursery or school.
ABA programmes for children with ASD have two main components:
Building skills: building on the child’s strengths with emphasis on communication, social interaction and play skills.
Behaviour management: replacing inappropriate behaviours with alternatives that serve the same function for the child. For example, if the child has tantrums to get his/her needs met, teaching the child how to request would be more appropriate replacement behaviour. Behaviours are prioritised according to how much they hinder learning or affect the child’s quality of life.
ABA programmes typically have the following key characteristics:
Strategies based on ABA (with regular workshops from trained clinical staff)
One-to-one instruction (from a team of tutors)
Intensity (approximately 30-35 hours per week and no less than 10 hours per week)
Early intervention (Principles of ABA can be effectively applied to any age group but ‘ABA programmes’ usually refers to EIBI (Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention). Most of the research is with children who started programmes between 2 and 7 years old)
Family involvement (programmes work best when families are involved)
Use of early intervention can lead to significant improvements in children’s quality of life and many children learn to function independently in mainstream school.
There are a number of providers of ABA therapy in the UK. At Kids In Sync we collaborate with Child Autism UK and local ABA practitioners. We can arrange for you to speak with a consultant regarding ABA therapy if you would like to look into this option further.