4 MIN READ | Special Needs

Adam Mulligan

How Effective Is ABA Therapy for Treating Kids with Autism and ASD?

Cite This
Adam Mulligan, (2022, December 3). How Effective Is ABA Therapy for Treating Kids with Autism and ASD?. Psychreg on Special Needs. https://www.psychreg.org/how-effective-aba-therapy-treatingkids-autism-asd/
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Many parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are looking for effective treatments that can help improve their child’s quality of life. Therapies like applied behaviour analysis (ABA) are one option that may be worth exploring.

ABA therapy is a type of behavioural therapy that uses scientifically based principles to teach specific skills and behaviours to children with autism or ASD. There have been many advances made in ABA therapy since its introduction. However, according to the CDC, 1 out of every 44 children in the US has been identified with ASD.

What is ABA therapy?

ABA therapy, or applied behaviour analysis, is behaviour modification or behavioural treatment. It is used to teach new skills and behaviours to help children with ASD increase their independence. ABA therapists also use this therapy to change negative behaviours and reduce challenging behaviours in children with ASD.

Some of the most frequently asked questions about ABA therapy from parents include:

  • What are the benefits of ABA therapy?
  • How does ABA therapy work?
  • How long does it take for ABA therapy to work?
  • Why should I consider ABA therapy for my child?
  • What do therapists look for when evaluating whether or not ABA therapy works?

You can explore more such questions and their answers here: https://lcabatherapy.com/frequently-asked-questions-about-aba-therapy/.

ABA therapy is based on the principles of learning theory and focuses on positive reinforcement as well as negative punishment. Therapists work with parents at home or in the clinic using daily schedules that outline what each day will look like for your child.

An ABA therapist will teach a child how to do things, like talk, walk or ride a bike. The therapist will also work on specific skills your child needs to live independently, such as brushing his teeth or using the toilet. The goal of ABA therapy is for children with ASD to learn how to interact with others and live independently once they reach adulthood.

Improve tolerance to change

ABA therapists also provide ADHD therapy that teaches kids how to cope with changes in their environment. They help them learn how to control their emotions and calm themselves down when upset or frustrated. ABA therapists also teach kids that things don’t have to stay the same, but change always happens anyway.

With the rise of autistic children in the US, the demand for more ABA therapists is rising. Around 33,633 ABA therapists in the US are currently providing their services, as per Zippia.

Social skills training is also a part of ABA therapy which focuses on helping kids learn how to interact with others by following directions, sharing toys and games, asking for help when needed, and accepting other people’s ideas and suggestions without getting upset.

Build communication skills

ABA therapy can help teach children with ASD how to communicate. During autism treatment, the therapist teaches children how to use gestures and words to express their needs, ask for things and answer questions. The therapy also helps them understand when someone is giving praise or criticism.

When a child understands these things, they feel more connected with other people around them. In addition, it leads to less frustration during the interaction, making the child more cooperative for ABA sessions or other activities that require cooperation, like schoolwork or social events.

Reduce unwanted behaviour

ABA therapy is a great way to reduce unwanted behaviour. Kids can learn how to control their emotions and think more clearly when in situations that make them feel stressed. As per Psychology Today, ABA is most successful in kids when applied for around 20 hours a week and before age 4.

One of the most effective ways ABA therapy works is by allowing kids to practice new behaviours repeatedly until they become second nature. Then you slowly start taking away the prompts until your child is completely independent with the new skill.

Increase attention span

One of the biggest challenges for children with ASD is their attention span. They tend to have difficulty focusing on a task for any significant amount of time and often get easily distracted. ABA therapy can help kids with ASD learn to focus on a task, ignore distractions, and engage with others appropriately.

In addition, parents and teachers can be taught how to keep their children engaged in activities that might otherwise be too challenging or overwhelming for them at home or school.

Improve social skills

ABA therapy effectively teaches children with autism and ASD how to interact with others. For example, the therapy teaches them to take turns, share, compliment people, and apologize. Even though the social skills taught through ABA are learned through repetition, they do not come across as robotic.

When a child can understand these concepts intellectually, it helps him understand why he should be mindful of them in everyday life.

Decrease aggression and repetitive behaviour

Parents will be happy to know that ABA therapy can help decrease aggression and repetitive behaviour. In addition, ABA therapists for autism help kids learn to communicate their needs and make everyone feel better.

Teachers can also help kids learn to control their impulses, which can lead to less aggressive behaviour. In addition, the therapist will work with the parents to help the child develop better communication skills, which makes them happier.

Develop play skills

Play is a natural part of childhood and is necessary for developing social skills, learning about the world, and understanding emotions. Play can also be used to learn about things, such as how a car works or what happens when you push down the gas pedal. To play effectively with a child with autism/ASD, it’s important to understand what motivates him or her.

There are many different types of play. Constructive play helps children develop social skills by working together towards a common goal. Pretending, or fantasy play, allows children to imagine themselves in different roles to understand their thoughts better. Finally, dramatic play allows them to express emotions through role-play scenarios.

ABA therapy has helped many kids with ASD thrive

ABA therapy is a type of therapy that uses rewards and punishments to teach social skills. For example, ABA therapists work with children with autism, giving them a script for what to say and do in any given situation. They reward the child for following the script perfectly, but if they don’t follow it correctly, they are punished.

It teaches the child how to interact with others while also providing them confidence because they know how to behave in any situation.

ABA therapy has proven effective in helping kids with these disorders develop their communication, social and play skills. The key is that it’s not just about treating symptoms but also about teaching them how to live independently as adults.


Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.


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