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Frequently Asked Questions


What is ABA and how does it work?

Applied behavior analysis is the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree, and to demonstrate that the interventions employed are responsible for the improvement in behavior.

These improvements in behavior are accomplished by breaking behaviors down in their component parts of Discriminantive Stimulus (Sd), Response (R), and Reinforcing Stimulus (Sr) and tapping into motivation to adjust behaviors step by step so that over time desirable behaviors are increased and undesirable behaviors are decreased. At the Arizona Institute for Autism, quality ABA is done by reducing the prompts so that the Sd’s and Sr’s become more and more natural over time.

How much ABA therapy should my learner receive?

When the goal is to change developmental trajectories to match that of typically developing peers, research, including several meta-analyses, show that 20-40 hours per week (6-7 hours daily, 5-6 days/week) of intensive ABA treatment is needed. Hours generally decrease as the client progresses in independence and generalizes behavioral changes to other critical settings.

Studies have shown that the brain’s plasticity is the highest between age 1 and 10 and that the more therapy a child can get at that age, the better. Your learner may need to develop focus and attention skills to benefit from more than an hour or two at a time or they may be able to make progress in 3-4 hour sessions.

At the Arizona Institute for Autism, we develop each child’s individualized care plan to make recommendations based upon your child’s unique goals and development. We do require a minimum of 20 hours/week of therapy in order to achieve measurable progress unless other recommendations have been authorized by the Clinical Director.

Who is a BCBA and why do I need one?

A Board Certified Behavior Analyst is a trained behavior analyst who holds a masters degree in behavior therapy and has passed the national BCBA board certification examination. A BCBA conducts descriptive and systematic (e.g., analogue) behavioral assessments, including functional analyses, and provides behavior analytic interpretations of the results.

A BCBA designs and supervises behavior analytic interventions. BCBAs effectively develop and implement appropriate assessments and intervention methods for use in unfamiliar situations and for a range of cases. The BCBA teaches others including parents to carry out ethical and effective behavior analytic interventions based on published research and designs and delivers instruction in behavior analysis.

At the Arizona Institute for Autism, BCBAs supervise the work of Clinical Case Supervisor, RBT's to assure that effective interventions are being performed, appropriate methodologies are being used, and progress is being made. By having a BCBA, you are assuring that your ABA program is professionally designed and managed.

What qualities should I look forward in a Behavioral Technician or Therapist?

Quality ABA therapists are both empathetic and analytic. They are able to connect with learners with warmth and playfulness while having curiosity to understand what makes people different. The ideal therapist is reliable, creative, patient, consistent, and persistent.

How does ABA help language and communication?

ABA therapy stresses receptive, and expressive language skills by working on structured programs to measure vocabulary and expand capabilities in matching features and functions.

ABA goes beyond what a speech therapist does by mixing language programs with play programs, academic programs, motor skills, and activities of daily living such as toileting. ABA teaches all of the verbal operants or functional units of language. When these units of language are systematically taught using principles of ABA, a child with autism benefits through an increase in receptive and expressive language, including communication, or requesting.

How does ABA help build social interaction skills?

ABA assists in developing social interaction skills when working on programs related to turn-taking, conversation and other skills that neuro-typical kids may pick up naturally. By identifying those individual areas where a child on the spectrum has deficits and building the developmental skills using ABA, social skills can be remediated.

Need Support in Getting an Autism Diagnosis?

To meet diagnostic criteria for ASD, a child must have persistent deficits in each of three areas of social communication and interaction plus at least two of four types of restricted repetitive behaviors. Consult with a Client Advocate today to receipt individual and family support!

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