Fort Myers ABA Therapy – Busting Myths and Misconceptions
Effective treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) involves an early intervention, intensive therapy schedule that includes Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), also known as the “gold standard” in autism treatment. In our years of offering Fort Myers ABA therapy (and the diagnostic ADOS testing for ASD), the FOCUS team is familiar with many myths and misconceptions surrounding its effectiveness.
Because a central function of our pediatric therapy services involves parent education and participation (we need all-hands-on-deck!), it’s critical that we address concerns about our Fort Myers ABA therapy services head-on. With so many conflicting information sources out there, we don’t blame parents for being confused or even hesitant. This exact phenomenon was noted as far back as a decade, with published research in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis noting the collective detrimental impact misrepresentations has on children.
But information is power. The truth is ABA has proven time and again – in clinical studies as well as within our own anecdotal experience – to be one of our most effective tools in securing long-term successful outcomes for these kids.
Here, we’re tackling some of the most common misunderstandings about ABA therapy. Still, we encourage parents and caregivers to reach out and discuss any and all concerns regarding the ABA process and their child’s progress.
What Is FOCUS Fort Myers ABA Therapy?
ABA therapy has been around for years, it’s proven effective in the course of scientific research – yet many people still don’t know exactly what it is.
The first thing to understand is there are a few different kinds of ABA therapy. All generally involve using a reward system to systematically encouraging positive behavioral changes in children. Goals include:
- Increasing on-task behaviors and effective social interaction/ learning new skills;
- Maintaining self-control and monitoring skills necessary to function in daily life;
- Generalizing/transferring positive learned behaviors from one setting to another;
- Restricting/narrowing the conditions under which interfering behaviors occur;
- Reducing interfering behaviors that may result in self-injury or harm to others.
While some therapy sites center exclusively on behavior, we incorporate developmental and play therapy with an interdisciplinary approach that involves interactivity, communication and emotional growth too.
Although ABA is considered the standard treatment for children with autism, it’s also approved for children with Down syndrome (many of whom also have autism) and sometimes other conditions.
The program requires a physician recommendation to start (usually a pediatric behavior or neurological specialist), with the first step to that being ADOS testing to assess the child’s level of function. Once ABA is recommended and approved by insurance, it’s overseen by a physician, with the day-to-day services carried out by trained registered behavior technicians (RBTs).
Some therapy centers offer services in the form of an “autism classroom,” where several children receive services in small groups with one RBT for about 6 hours daily. This likely would not be a good fit for a school-age child with high-functioning autism who has the potential to function in a typical classroom.
The Fort Myers ABA therapy program at FOCUS involves intensive, one-on-one ratio of children to RBTs, both for younger children and those of school-age with moderate-to-severe autism (though we do encourage opportunities for peer interaction and participation). The earlier we can intervene with ABA therapy (ideally before age 4 or 5), the better the end results – and the higher the chances the child join – and excel – in a mainstream, typical classroom.
Most Common ABA Therapy Myths and Misconceptions
Down to the misunderstandings we hear most frequently about ABA therapy:
Myth: ABA is experimental.
Fact: ABA therapy is the only one recommended by the U.S. Surgeon General that has proven through three decades of clinical research to be effective. It’s been around since the 1950s, and it’s been objectively shown to work since the 1970s.
Myth: ABA therapy places too much emphasis on food as a reward.
Fact: There are many different types of rewards, but they all depend on the child. Some are extremely food-motivated, but therapy is uniquely tailored for each individual child’s needs and best interests.
Myth: All children hear is “No.”
Fact: The opposite is actually true. ABA therapy focuses on positive reinforcement, the goal being to instill self-confidence and the opportunity to build on successes.
Myth: ABA won’t work for older children.
Fact: While we do emphasize the value of early intervention, our Fort Myers ABA therapy services work for children of all ages. With older children, what we frequently find is that the process may take longer or require greater intensity to be effective – but it absolutely does still work.
If you have questions about our ABA therapy services at FOCUS, we encourage you to call and set up an appointment to speak to our team, see our facility and observe our practices.