You would do anything to help your child reach their full potential. This is why you’ve started researching Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy services and other early intervention strategies. ABA therapy is constantly evolving and improving. But there are certain foundational ABA techniques and strategies that certified behavioral analysts are using to help children with autism thrive in every environment.
Read below for a review of 7 effective ABA techniques used with children with autism.
1. Positive and Negative Reinforcement
Most parents and teachers are familiar with using positive and negative reinforcement with children. Rewarding children for good behaviors and disciplining them for negative behaviors teaches them which actions are appropriate and which are not.
Positive and negative reinforcement is one of the most common ABA teaching techniques used by professionals and parents alike. But in order to make the most out of this technique, it has to be applied consistently. If a child acts inappropriately, the consequences have to be consistent. If not, they may get confused about whether they can repeat the behavior in certain situations and not others.
The same principle applies to positive reinforcement. Even when a positive behavior becomes consistent for a child, the continuation of the reward will ensure that they understand what they are doing is the right thing to do.
You can use external rewards like stickers or extra screen time as positive reinforcement or use verbal affirmatoins and compliments. Negative reinforcement might be taking away a specific toy for the day or a stern verbal warning that the behavior will not be tolerated.
2. Video Modeling
Is your child a visual learner? If so, video modeling could be a great ABA teaching tool. Video modeling can be used to show children with autism certain skills like how to interact socially with peers. It could also be used to show them how to express their emotions when they feel sad, scared, or angry.
Children naturally imitate what they see in real life and on television. ABA teaching techniques like video modeling try to use this as an advantage. The child sees how they are meant to act by watching the video. Then, when they find themselves in the same situation, they mimic what they’ve seen.
3. Prompting and Fading
Prompting and fading is an ABA therapy technique that uses prompts or cues to teach children. A therapist might use physical or verbal prompts to help a child learn a new skill or complete an activity.
A physical prompt might be guiding a child’s hands while they complete a task or using a hand gesture to show them how to do something. These physical prompts are meant to be gentle and helpful.
Verbal prompts are words or phrases used to encourage a child to do a certain thing. You could use a verbal cue to remind them to say hello when they meet a new person or to wash their hands before they eat. Again, verbal prompts should be helpful and non-judgmental whenever possible.
Part of the technique is then fading the prompts. This involves slowly providing less obvious prompts and allowing the child to remind themselves how to do a task or how to behave in a certain situation. It provides room for them to grow and become more independent without prompts.
4. Natural Environment Teaching
Natural environment teaching encourages children to learn in real-life scenarios. Instead of trying to teach them at home how to behave in the grocery store, you take the child to the grocery store and teach them there. This is one of the more challenging ABA therapy techniques but it is highly effective.
ABA centers are another great learning environment for children with autism. They can learn in a natural environment with other children and experienced, professional staff.
5. Behavior Chain
For children with autism, learning a new task can be overwhelming. But the behavior chain technique can make it simpler by taking one large activity and breaking it up into smaller, more manageable tasks.
Therapists will often use the behavior chain technique along with prompts until the activity becomes easier for the child. They may start with step one or start at the end and work backward depending on the specific task.
Generalization involves teaching a child how to take a particular concept and use it in a different way or a different environment. if your child is working with home-based ABA services, a therapist might use the generalization technique to help the child use what they’ve learned at home when they go to school.
For example, if a child learns to ask for a cup of water at home when they are thirsty, this skill can be generalized to when they are thirsty in the car or at the park. Generalization uses knowledge and skills the child already has and applies them to other related scenarios.
7. Behavior Contracts
Behavior contracts work with slightly older children with autism that are experienced with positive and negative reinforcement. In the contract, there are tasks or behaviors that the therapist or the parent wants the child to perform. When they successfully perform the task or behavior, they are rewarded.
The contract holds the child and the parent or therapist responsible to follow through with the agreement. Behavior contracts usually include what the reward will be, such as gold tokens. When the child has saved up enough gold tokens they get a larger prize such as candy or going to the movies.
Finding the Right ABA Techniques for Your Child
Your child is unique and so are their learning needs. The ABA techniques above may work better for some children than others. Try these strategies at home or with an ABA therapist to see which ones work best for your child.
It may take time for these strategies to start working, but it’s worth the wait. If you’re interested in learning more about ABA therapy and early intervention for children with autism, check out website or contact us online.