About Autism & ABA

Get to know what Autism is and why ABA is the right choice.

What is Autism?

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. There are many types of abilities on the spectrum of autism and various outcomes accomplished with treatment.

Autism’s most-obvious signs tend to appear around age 2 or 3. In some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Developmental delays may also be noted earlier than that. In other cases, it is diagnosed later in early preschool or elementary years. Early intervention can result in improved outcomes, therefore it is recommended that parents seek evaluation as early as possible.

This information is not meant to diagnose or treat and should not take the place of personal consultation, as appropriate, with a qualified healthcare professional.

More About Autism

  • 1 in 44 children in the USA have autism, estimated by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2021
  • An estimated 50,000 teens with autism become adults – and lose school-based autism services yearly
  • Around 1/3 of people with autism have an intellectual disability
  • Around 1/3 of people with autism remain nonverbal
  • Certain medical and mental health issues frequently accompany autism including gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures, sleep disturbances, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and phobias
  • The American Psychiatric Association merged four previously distinct diagnoses into one umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in 2013, which included autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome

What is ABA Therapy?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is based on the science of learning and behavior.  It is a scientifically proven treatment for the symptoms of autism. The goal is to increase behaviors that are helpful and decrease behaviors that are harmful or affect learning.  ABA therapy as a treatment program systematically applies principles and techniques based upon learning theory, with the ultimate goal of improving socially significant behavior.  Behavior analysis methods have been used and studied for decades, and have helped many kinds of learners gain a wide variety of skills.  ABA therapy can increase a variety of skills such as language, communication, social, attention, academic, self-help, and adaptive living skills, while decreasing maladaptive or undesirable behavior.

How Does ABA Therapy Help?

ABA enables us to determine and understand why a behavior is occurring.  The use of reinforcement is critical to ABA and allows us to shape behavior while making learning fun for your child.  ABA therapy is conducted by trained Behavior Technicians, generally in a one to one format, with strategic social and group interaction when appropriate.  ABA therapy is overseen by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

What is Natural Environment Teaching?

Natural Environment Teaching (NET) utilizes the play activities children love such as playing with cars, climbing, building blocks, or going on a scavenger hunt into meaningful learning opportunities.  Naturalistic teaching fills every minute of the child’s day with learning through observation and imitation while encompassing play.  Learning opportunities are created naturally as children play, interact, dance, and have fun throughout their day. Generalization of skills leading to lasting skill mastery is intentionally implemented through activities, settings and people.   

What is the Verbal Behavior Approach?

At DASI we use a Verbal Behavior (VB) approach when developing Individual Treatment Plans. This approach is based on B.F. Skinners book Verbal Behavior in which a full analysis of language was conducted. Essentially this means we look at the function of each word rather than the form. It is very common for a child with autism to be able to label an item (such as a cracker) but not know how to ask for one when they want it. In using a VB approach we take extra care to ensure that our learners acquire functional language skills.

Why is Speech Therapy Included?

We integrate Speech Therapy and Speech consultation in with our ABA Therapy in order to better serve our clients. Children with a diagnosis of Autism often exhibit a speech and language delay. Integrating Speech Therapy into our programs allows continuous practice during therapy sessions to increase expressive, receptive and social skills. Our client’s have the opportunity to practice language in naturally occurring settings that can easily be translated to a child’s natural environment. We provide speech and language training and consultation to our team members, families, and to the educators we work with.

How Are Social Groups Used?

Social opportunities are important when targeting social skills.  We work with families and community organizations to create social opportunities for our clients, targeting these skills across environments. 

What is Parent Training?

We offer parent training and support as a standard for all families.  We encourage parent involvement, and target skills generalization to ensure success across environments.  Our families receive the attention and support the deserve by a BCBA, working in collaboration as an essential part of their child’s team. 

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