What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a group of developmental disabilities that are often diagnosed during early childhood and can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges over a lifetime. People with ASDs have a different way of understanding and reacting to people and events in their world. These differences are caused by the way their brain processes information.
This group of developmental disabilities is considered a "spectrum" of disorders. This means ASDs affect each person in different ways , and symptoms can range from mild to severe. People with ASds share some similar symptoms, such as problems with social interactions, problems with communication, and highly focused interests or repetitive activities but there are differences in when the symptoms begin or are first noticed and in how the symptoms affect a person's functioning.
The way that Autism Spectrum Disorders are defined has changed recently with the publication of the new DSM-5.
What is ABA?
"ABA" stands for Applied Behavior Analysis. ABA is a set of principles that form the basis for many behavioral treatments. ABA is based on the science of learning and behavior. This science includes general "laws" about how behavior works and how learning takes place. ABA therapy applies these laws to behavior treatments in a way that helps to increase useful or desired behaviors and decrease problem behaviors.
ABA also applies these laws to help reduce behaviors that may interfere with learning or behaviors that may be harmful. ABA therapy is used to increase language and communication skills. It is also used to improve attention, focus, social skills, memory, and academics.
ABA is considered an evidence-based "best" practice treatment by the US Surgeon General and by the American Psychological Association. "Evidence based" means that ABA has passed scientific tests of its usefulness, quality, and effectiveness. ABA therapy includes many different techniques, all of which focus on actecedents (what happens before a behavior occurs) and on consequences (what happens after a behavior occurs).
One technique we use is "positive reinforcement." When a behavior is followed by something that is valued (a reward), that behavior is more likely to be repeated. ABA uses positive reinforcement in a way that can be measured in order to help bring about meaningful behavior change.