November 13, 2019
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If you are a parent of a child with autism, you are likely familiar with these three letters: A, B, and A. Those three letters stand for applied behavior analysis (ABA), the most effective treatment available for children and adolescents with autism. First things first: ABA is an evidence-based approach backed by decades of research It is, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the recommended form of treatment for individuals with autism. A clinician trained in applied behavior analysis works with the person receiving the treatment and their caregivers to determine a set of goals that, if successfully reached, will improve the quality of life for the individual impacted by autism.
ABA therapy provides benefits to children across a full range of outcomes: improving their ability to communicate their wants and needs; expanding their play skills; building new social skills; learning skills that increase their ability to be successful at school; and teaching them vocational skills. The sole focus of ABA therapy is to help individuals to eventually live as independent a life as possible. At AnswersNow, we work with parents whose children deal with all sorts of issues, from children who aren’t yet speaking to children whose behaviors prevent them from going out in public due to being fearful of what kind overstimulating experiences they might encounter.
So, the evidence points to the fact that ABA therapy is effective. But is it cost-effective? And what kinds of options do parents have when seeking out ABA support for their children? In this article, we’ll break down applied behavior analysis into five categories, the last one being the latest development in ABA therapy for caregivers and their children. We’ll cover, in order, the following categories.
Going to a clinic, a stand-alone office run by a behavioral provider or an organization, is one of the more well-known ways for children to receive autism treatment. However, whether or not this an option for you and your family depends on if you have providers working in your area. Therefore, it’s not just finding a qualified provider that parents have to consider but also cost and travel time to the clinic. This can be a great option for families who happen to live in an area with experienced providers, but it’s a frustrating reality that not all communities have access to high-quality professionals.
If convenient autism treatment is your goal, then in-home ABA therapy might be the way to go. Again, this depends on whether you have autism organizations in your area that have the resources to send out providers to your home. Additionally, this tends to be a costly option. While you don’t need to travel to appointments all the time, there are other trade-offs that you must consider. Insurance co-pays, clinical staff turnover, scheduling challenges, and time commitment are some of the issues related to in-home services.
Receiving ABA services for school-aged children is an important issue to consider. While there are many special education programs in public schools, they are generally not staffed with people specifically trained in ABA. The truth is, most children on the spectrum will receive almost all of, if not all, their education in a public school. If you desire a specialized environment for your child, or your child requires more intensive services, then a private school geared toward autism might be the right choice. While many of these autism-focused schools are staffed by experts in ABA, they are often quite costly. There are also very few of them in the United States. If you are fortunate enough to a) have one nearby and b) have a public school system that agrees that’s the best placement for your child, then you’re ahead of the curve.
We’ve now reviewed ABA-therapy options that involve direct service at various physical locations. Ultimately, you will need to decide which of these options--if any--is right for your family. Now we will shift focus and take a look at the latest types of ABA therapy that have emerged with the advent of new technology.
Believe it or not, online ABA therapy has been available for several years now, but it’s still not a popular option. But why is that the case? It’s likely because it’s hard to translate the intimacy of one-on-one therapy to the Internet. In practice, the form that online ABA treatment has taken is telemedicine. And as convenient as that sounds, you still have to find a provider that is willing to use video calls as a way to provide autism support for your family. There are some larger organizations that provide telemedicine based on ABA therapy. Usually, they are connected to universities that have the resources to maintain such an operation. And since there are not many telehealth providers in the United States providing ABA therapy, availability tends to be a limiting factor. And with that in mind, we move to the final ABA therapy option on our list...
Can you really get ABA therapy for your child on an app? Yes, you can! If you were to search for ABA therapy in the App Store or on Google Play, you would find a number of options. However, almost all of the available apps simply provide games for children to play with or forums that parents can search through. We are very proud to say we’ve designed the very first app that pairs caregivers with their own certified autism therapists. Parents can ask whatever autism-parenting questions they have, whenever they want to ask them. In return, parents get answers from trained experts personalized to their family’s situation. The AnswersNow Autism App has reimagined the type of autism support that parents can get online. Available for both iOS and Android devices, AnswersNow is a convenient way for parents to get matched with a personal, highly qualified autism clinician. All clinicians are board-certified behavior analysts (BCBAs), and each one has years of experience working with families.
To conclude this post, we’d like to introduce you to Mike, a father who had great success with the AnswersNow Autism App
Mike is a recently divorced dad who shares custody with his 10-year-old son on the spectrum. He and his AnswersNow therapist spent a little time chatting back and forth about his concerns and how he'd like to use AnswersNow. He shared how his son’s scripted responses really bothered him. We unpacked that a little and it turned out that he felt that his son a) wasn't trying hard enough to communicate and b) it was embarrassing to him. Mike’s therapist explained that his son's behavior wasn't purposeful but that it was really hard for him to come up with a wide range of responses to questions and it was easier for him (and less stressful) to script. Mike replied that he didn't know that but it helped him understand the behavior a little better. The AnswersNow therapist then suggested a simple intervention. The next time his son scripted an answer, he could just say, "Hey, here's another way you could have answered that" and then leave it alone. Mike’s therapist checked in a couple of days later and asked how it was going. Mike said it was great, adding that he didn't get as tense when his son scripted and that his son really seemed to appreciate the simple suggestions. All of this took place on the AnswersNow app.
This is what’s possible with the latest form of ABA therapy. Could this be the kind of reliable autism-parenting support that you’ve been looking for? Download the app today to find out.
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