For parents with one or more children with an autism spectrum disorder, the idea of Applied Behavior Analysis therapy is likely quite familiar. ABA is a form of therapy that uses repetitive instructions and reinforcements to teach new concepts and to help facilitate mental, social, and emotional development, eventually rewiring the brain and effectively teaching it to learn. While a number of children who undergo intensive ABA therapy at an early and formative age are able to function well in normal classrooms, sometimes virtually indistinguishable in function from other children, a number of children need continued therapy after starting school. For many of these children, a combination of home and school based ABA therapy is recommended or required. For these students, it is crucial that the two programs communicate frequently and strive for the same goals.
One problem many schools have is that instructors are not trained in ABA. Other schools have instructors that are not familiar with current treatment methods or may work in a different manner than parents. For this reason it is recommended that a training mechanism be used that applies to both parents and school districts so that the two may work together to achieve the same goals and to make the therapy more comfortable and effective for the children involved.
Parents and schools who share a common goal in teaching a child with an autism spectrum disorder must work together closely to compare data and identify trends in behavior and learning. Only when all data is examined can goals be clearly and properly established and a proper course of treatment planned. By working together to teach the same methods and achieve the same goals, both parties give a child the best chance of success and of truly reaching their maximum potential.
Applied Behavior Analysis therapy can be successful for any child, but it must be uniformly applied by all who are teaching them. If one party uses positive reinforcement and repetition while another uses only voice prompts and negative reinforcement, progress may be hindered or stopped. Parents and schools are urged to share a training regimen and class and work to foster an environment that makes learning easy for the child or children involved. By doing this the child is truly given all of the tools he or she needs to function to the best of their ability, and only then does the child have a chance at recovering from an autism spectrum disorder.