If your child is over 3 years old, they will need a diagnosis of autism for services. You may seek a diagnosis by getting a referral from your pediatrician and getting an evaluation conducted by a licensed diagnostic professional such as a neurologist. If your child is under 3 years old, you may qualify for early intervention services without a diagnosis. Please see information here.
This will depend on several factors such as age, level of delays, and response to treatment. Because we cover a wide range of developmental areas and need to ensure generalization of skills across people and settings, you should expect your child to need ABA for at least 1-2 years, and often longer.
All therapies require an adult over 18 years old to be present in the home, with the exception of clinic sessions where a caregiver does not need to be present and the child may be dropped off. Caregivers do not need to participate in the entirety of direct ABA therapy sessions, but are required to participate in parent training and communication with supervisors and BTs. The more you participate in your child’s therapy, the better able you will be to implement strategies into your home and help your child meet their goals.
Our BTs have an extensive initial training through our company, as well as a 40-hour RBT certification training that is provided by an outside training program. Ongoing training is provided by BCBAs and Clinical Directors during and outside of 1:1 sessions.
Spectrum Behavioral Therapies | ABA Therapy Orange County, CA
Myths and misconceptions
I heard ABA makes children rote learners who respond like robots.
A quality ABA program does not only teach basic questions and answers (example: “Tell me a vehicle” and the child says “Car” each time). Here at Spectrum, we may start with basics (depending on your child’s needs), but we ensure generalization to the natural environment all throughout the process. For example, we may teach the child to name various vehicles through looking at picture books, watching videos, and going out in the community. We may later teach the child to build more complex sentences and have conversations about their favorite vehicles, differences between vehicles, etc. Ultimately, the goal when teaching these skills is to meet the child where they are and build up to the functional application of these skills into larger skills and their natural environment/socialization opportunities.
I heard ABA uses punishment when correcting behaviors.
Although the principles of behavior analysis do address both reinforcement and punishment as the means for anyone’s behavior to increase or decrease, an ABA program should not be based on punishment procedures. Here at Spectrum Behavioral Therapies, we focus on teaching appropriate behaviors/skills, then providing reinforcement for those behaviors. When problem behaviors occur, reinforcement is not available, so the behavior technician will teach a more appropriate behavior, then reinforce that behavior. In very rare instances, a behavior may be more severe (i.e., aggression toward younger sibling), and certain punishment procedures (i.e., removal of a preferred activity for a short duration) may be utilized, but only with parent permission and under the supervision of a BCBA supervisor.
I understand that ABA uses reinforcement for behavior modification, but I don’t think my child should be bribed to do things they should already be doing.
According to principles of behavior analysis, all human behaviors are engaged in to seek reinforcement! For example, when we go to work, we do so to access money which is reinforcing the behavior of going to work; when we put away our laundry, it is to have a tidy house. In our ABA sessions, children often need more basic forms of reinforcement such as token boards, toys, and treats. This helps us teach critical learning skills that will allow your child to learn from more natural reinforcement later on. Reinforcement also helps your child build more positive relationships with their clinical team and access reinforcement from social opportunities later on as well.
I heard ABA is not effective for children over 6 years old.
Although services provided for children under 6 years old are incredible and learning is conducted at a high rate, ABA has been proven to be effective for children over 6 years old, and even for adults with various diagnoses! We have had great success with clients of all ages, including adults, and the goal is always to make the individual more independent and find more ease when navigating and participating in their environment.
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