Akron ABA therapy

Top Akron ABA Therapy Strategies

If your child has been diagnosed with autism in Northeast Ohio, you may have been referred for Akron ABA therapy services. ABA therapy (short for “Applied Behavior Analysis”) is considered the gold standard treatment for children with autism, and the earlier we start, the better the long-term outcomes.

ABA therapy is an established but still newer behavior science that is continually evolving and improving. While we don’t expect parents to know all the ins-and-outs, we do encourage parents to take some time to understand some of the basic terms and foundational techniques.

Positive & Negative Reinforcement

This is probably the most well-known pediatric ABA therapy strategy – and one of the most easily understood as it’s regularly employed by parents and teachers in other settings. The idea of reward for good behavior and consequences for poor behavior is fairly common way to teach kids which actions are expected and which are not.

Similar principles are used in ABA – except we typically don’t characterize behaviors as “good” or “bad.” They are either “expected” or “unexpected.” Expected behaviors are those understood to be effective when engaging others in society. Unexpected behaviors are not effective – and may even be harmful.

With Akron ABA therapy, positive reinforcement could be something as simple as eye contact, positive verbal affirmations, hugs, a favorite song, 2 minutes of screen time, etc. – anything we recognize the child values and wants to continue working for. “Negative” reinforcement isn’t necessarily “bad” – because again, this isn’t about “bad” behaviors. It’s about unexpected or unhelpful behaviors. So “negative” reinforcement could be something as simple as withholding eye contact or praise. It’s not so much looked at as a “punishment” as a denial of reward for unexpected behaviors.

Prompting & Fading

Prompting & fading is a technique we use in Akron ABA therapy that uses certain cues to help children understand what is expected of them. Prompts can be verbal, physical, visual, etc.

For instance, a physical prompt might involve guiding a child’s hands to complete a certain task. A verbal prompt might be using certain words or phrases to encourage a child’s engagement in a certain activity or completion in a certain task.

Fading prompts are when we slowly start scaling back on those prompts, allowing the child an opportunity to initiate or handle the remainder of the task on their own.

Video Modeling

This can be an especially helpful tactic for visual learners. Video modeling as an Akron ABA therapy tool may involve showing them videos of social-emotional interactions that give them clues about how to interact with peers, how to appropriately express emotions, how to measure the “size of a problem,” and how to deal with big feelings.

Behavior Chaining

Children with autism may have a tough time learning a new task. But by using a behavior chain technique, we can break up bigger tasks into smaller, more manageable ones. Akron ABA therapy pros will often combine this with prompts & fades until the child is able to initiate and complete the task on their own.

Individualized Approaches for Every Child

Ultimately, the right ABA therapy approaches for your child will be those that are tailored to their unique skills and goals – and may take some trial-and-error. Our Akron ABA therapy team at Therapy & Wellness Connection is committed to finding what helps each child thrive – and we’re here to answer your questions and discuss the evidence-based approaches and strategies we’ve found most effective.

Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides speech therapy to children in Akron, Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.

Additional Resources:

What is Applied Behavior Analysis? Autism Speaks

Akron ABA therapists

ABA Therapists Can Help With Autism Food Aversions

Mealtimes are awash in rich sensory experiences, with an array of smells, temperatures, textures, sounds, tastes and interactions. Most people enjoy mealtimes and sharing these experiences with loved ones. But our ABA therapists recognize that for children on the autism spectrum, mealtimes can present significant sensory challenges, leading to stress, sensory overload and meltdowns. Difficulties with communication can pose additional challenges for everyone.

Of course, it’s not uncommon for any child to be picky at times, but kids on the autism spectrum may be highly sensitive not just to something’s flavor, but its texture, shape, smell and color. They may have a strong preference for a very small selection of foods, and might even have an overwhelming need to eat those same foods on the same plate or in the same place at each meal.

You may notice that people with autism sometimes develop their own strategies to limit their sensory input during mealtimes. They may become:

  • Overly selective in their foods.
  • Inflexible in their mealtime routines.
  • Refuse to eat/eat limited amounts.
  • Prone to escape (elope, cover their ears, eyes, nose and/or mouth).
  • Repetitive in their behaviors to self-soothe.
Akron ABA therapists

ABA Therapists Talk the Power of Positive Reinforcement

One of the most effective strategies our Akron ABA therapists utilize in therapy is positive reinforcement.

If you think about it, most of us respond well to this. We do things all the time in our everyday lives, anticipating the benefits we’ll receive. A teenager may work odd jobs in order to buy tickets to a concert. An adult may do yard work on the weekends because he or she likes the personal satisfaction of seeing their lawn looking nice. Students finish their homework so they can have the reward of playing video games afterward.

When they receive that positive reward, it “reinforces” their behavior. It makes them more likely to put in the work next time for the payoff they’ll get.

As our ABA therapists can explain, it’s the same with children who have autism and are receiving ABA therapy, although the goal, reward and process may look different.

Akron ABA therapists

ABA Therapists: Play-Based, Child-Led Therapy Most Effective in Motivating Kids’ Speech

One of the earliest clues that a child might have autism is a speech delay. As our Akron ABA therapists can explain, children with autism tend to be less socially motivated than their typically-developing peers, which is why many parents’ instincts about how to engage their children in speech often don’t work. But with a combination of intensive, early intervention therapy and parental involvement/consistency, many children with autism can and do learn to speak, socialize and function independently in society.

Discovering the best approach for each individual child is a big part of what our Akron ABA therapists do. A new study by researchers at Standford University revealed that pivotal response treatment that involves parents works better than many other approaches to engaging a child on the autism spectrum.

ABA Therapists Explain: What is Pivotal Response Treatment? 

Pivotal response treatment, or PRT, is play-based, initiated by the child and based on the core principals of Applied Behavior Analysis/ABA therapy.