Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Autism

What is applied behavior analysis?

Applied behavior analysis(ABA) is the study and dissection of what makes a person behave a certain way. Therapists and psychiatrists that enter this specific field look to the probable causes of behavior and try to explain them. They provide testing to assess whether or not someone has a behavioral problem or a social interaction issue. A majority of Applied Behavior Analysts are now working as assessors and therapists for autism. Because of its growing prevalence, the analysts have a considerable amount of work ahead of them and in some areas of the country there aren’t enough analysts to go around.

What is applied behavior analysis used for?

Initially what happens is that a child suspected of having autism, even high functioning autism, is referred to an applied behavior analyst. It can take up to three months to get the child in to be seen, tested, assessed, and diagnosed. The appointments usually last about two to three hours and there’s a series of questions and tests for the analyst to go over. Sometimes the analyst will meet with the parent or parents of the child and discuss with them how they see their child and what behavior they have noticed, if any, that seems peculiar in nature. This is typically a separate appointment from meeting with the child and lasts almost as long as the appointment with the child does.

Once the analyst has a full family history and the tests have been performed on the child, the analyst will evaluate the facts in front of him or her and pass a diagnosis. From there the family can find additional help through county services for long term care or assistance with in home therapy for the child. The child will have to undergo yet another barrage of analytic tests to see if he or she is low functioning enough to require state and federal funded services and long term care.

If the child does need the additional services, several applied behavior analysts have autism therapists work for them and help create and perform a support plan for the family and the child. The applied behavior analyst is the head of the program and the one everyone turns to when part of the program doesn’t seem to be effective when working with a child. The analyst will then examine the whats and whys of the section of therapy that doesn’t seem to be working and alter it in an attempt to get it to the therapeutic level it needs to be at for the child.

Applied Behavior Analysts then, play a major role in each autistic child’s diagnosis and therapy plan if it’s deemed that there needs to be one. Until the child shows improvement, or lack thereof, in an area that is addressed, no changes are made. The analyst is usually the one to make that call, but parents have rights to advocate for their special need child and can dismiss an analyst at any time to find one they feel will work better.

How to find applied behavior analyst?

If there isn’t an Applied Behavior Analyst in your area, you can perform a web search that will help you find the nearest one. You might be surprised to discover that there is one a lot closer than you thought because it isn’t like these analysts advertise extensively with regards to the types of services they provide. Make sure you have a referral from your school or pediatrician prior to setting up an appointment, otherwise you might be a little lost when you’re asked why you’ve sought out the analyst’s help.

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