Therapies for Autism: Focusing on Applied Behavior Analysis
So far, we have been talking about learning and technology for autism, but we have not talked about the therapies that could help autistic individuals, especially children. The Child Mind Institute says that, “Therapies help autistic kids build skills and reduce behaviors that interfere with learning and communication. Applied Behavior Analysis (or ABA) is a common therapy” (Autism, 2021). There are several types of therapies available to autistic children. However, it is crucial to fit the type of therapy to what the autistic child needs most.
As mentioned previously, Applied Behavior Analysis “… is a scientific approach to understanding behavior. ABA refers to a set of principles that focus on how behaviors change, or are affected by the environment, as well as how learning takes place. The term behavior refers to skills and actions needed to talk, play, and live. While these principles impact everyone each day, they can be applied systematically through interventions to help individuals learn and apply new skills in their daily lives” (Autism Q & A, n.d.). The most common types, other than ABA, of autism therapy look like: Early Start Denver Model (EDSM), Floortime, Occupational Therapy (OT), Speech Therapy, Relationship Development Intervention (RDI), and more. Each one of these therapies plays a part in helping the child with autism focus on helping the parts they need the most uplift with. As mentioned in one of the previous blog posts, “EMDR, Neural Networks, & Autism”, EMDR is one of these types of therapies that can help children with autism, and just like EMDR, I believe ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) can also be integrated with technology, maybe even Virtual Reality technology, to further advance this therapy technique to help such children.
ABA therapy can be used virtual reality to create awareness to these children with autism of helpful behaviors vs non helpful behaviors. This would allow these children to shape their own experiences at their own control. An environment, in a game-like scenario, could be created, where a child with autism is in charge of what decisions to make to move on in the “game”. Positive behaviors can be awarded with someone the child is fond of, such as a visually, positively, stimulating video or calming music. Unwanted behaviors, or negative decisions, in the game would not be rewarded, and possibly ignored. This would reinforce positive behaviors in a more controlled environment and exciting way for these children.
Autism Q & A: What is Applied Behavior Analysis? (n.d.). Retrieved December 5, 2021, from https://vcuautismcenter.org/resources/factsheets/printView.cfm/982.
Autism. Child Mind Institute. (2021, September 7). Retrieved December 5, 2021, from https://childmind.org/topics/autism/.
Montemurro, T. (2020, January 7). What is ABA? The Behavior Place. Retrieved December 5, 2021, from https://behaviorplace.com/tips/2016/11/7/what-is-aba.
Rudy, L. J. (2021, October 18). Is applied behavioral analyis (ABA) right for my autistic child? Verywell Health. Retrieved December 5, 2021, from https://www.verywellhealth.com/aba-applied-behavioral-analysis-therapy-autism-259913.
— Jayvanti Vanmanthai