ABA stands for Applied Behavior Analysis– a method of behavior analysis that has been studied and used for decades. Its useful application for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder has brought it into the spotlight in recent decades, but it has been used since the 1960s to help children with autism and associated developmental disorders. At Mindful and Modern Therapies, ABA therapy takes our scientific understanding of behavior and applies it to real situations with the goal of increasing positive behaviors and decreasing negative behaviors. Mindful and Modern ABA Therapy practices ABA therapy for autism in a Montessori-style environment, an approach that resonates with many ASD children and their families.
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How does ABA therapy for autism work?
ABA therapy for autism uses positive reinforcement as a primary strategy to encourage and affect behavioral change. Therapists begin by identifying a behavior to target as a goal. When a child successfully uses the behavior, they are rewarded in a way that is meaningful to them, specifically. By repeatedly giving a reward for using a positive skill over time, eventually, behavioral change is achieved. While it sounds simple, ABA therapy uses behavioral science to understand the unique motivations of each child, creating an individual plan based upon these nuances. At MMAT, we work using the Montessori Method, which encourages children to take the initiative so that we can work towards their independence through cooperation.
ABA therapy for autism also uses three steps– the A-B-Cs to understand and shape behavior:
A is for antecedent, the event that happens just before a target behavior. It may be verbal, in the form of a request or a question. It could be physical, something like a toy, a sound, a light, or some other environmental element. Sometimes, an antecedent is internal.
B is for the behavior resulting from the antecedent. This might take the form of an action, a spoken response, or some other response.
C is for consequence, whatever follows the behavior directly. This may include positive reinforcement of a positive behavior or non-reaction to a negative or inappropriate response.
This is a very simplified explanation of how ABA works. By using these tools, we can understand why a behavior is happening and how better learn how to reinforce positive behavior.
The beauty of ABA therapy is its flexibility. It can be adapted to meet each child’s unique needs, can be provided in almost any location– a classroom, at home, or in the community–, and can work on a one-on-one or group setting.
What is involved in a program of ABA therapy for autism?
At MMAT, our ABA therapy program centers on helping each individual child learn the skills that will make them more successful and independent on a short and long-term basis. Planning is essential to successful ABA therapy for autism. A highly-qualified behavior analyst (BCBA) customizes each child’s therapy plan based on their interests, preferences, needs, and skills. Family goals are often included as a part of the plan.
Therapists (RBT) and BCBAs continually measure a child’s progress through data collection. Every therapy session is an opportunity to collect data and to monitor progress towards goals. BCBAs meet with family members regularly to review information, adjust teaching plans, and plan ahead together.
Families play an active role in ABA therapy for autism
In addition to meeting with the BCBA and RBT on a regular basis to discuss progress and review milestones that have been met, families are active participants in ABA therapy. Caregivers, family members, and parents are encouraged to receive training so that they are also able to support a child’s skill practice and learning at home. By maintaining consistent positive reinforcement and other therapeutic protocols in various environments, we make sure that meaningful behavioral changes are long-lasting.
Who provides ABA therapy for autism and what are their qualifications?
There are several types of professionals who work together to provide ABA therapy for autism at MMAT.
- A board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA) is the top-tier of the professionals who work with children to provide ABA therapy. BCBAs give clinical diagnoses of ASD and create therapy plans for each child on an individual basis. Each BCBA has earned either a master’s degree or a Ph.D. in behavior analysis or psychology, passed a national certification exam, and in some states is required to attain a license.
- A board-certified assistance behavior analyst (BCaBA) works under the supervision of a BCBA. A BCaBA has earned a bachelor’s degree in behavior analysis, passed a national certification exam, and in some states is required to hold a license.
- A registered behavior technician (RBT) is a trained therapist who works under the supervision of a BCBA. These are the professionals who work one-on-one with children each day to practice skills and achieve the individual goals defined by the BCBA.
Get started with ABA therapy for Autism
The first step towards enrolling your child in a program is to take a tour of the Mindful and Modern ABA Therapies facility to see if it is a good fit for your family. If you believe that our staff and program is right for your child, then you must schedule an assessment with us to get a clinical diagnosis for your child. During the assessment, a BCBA will spend 15-30 minutes working with and observing your child in order to determine whether they have ASD. Once your child has been diagnosed, the process of being approved by your insurance company begins, and once you are approved, you may enroll your child in therapy. Once your child is enrolled, the BCBA will create a treatment plan specific to your child, and they will be paired with an RBT for their treatment.
Frequently asked questions about ABA therapy for Autism
ABA therapy works on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. That means we provide therapy one-on-one, with a strong, ongoing emphasis on “pairing” the child with one dedicated therapist so that they develop a secure, long term relationship. We use ABA therapy methods are data-driven, meaning that they are highly individualized to fit with the needs of each child on a case-by-case basis.
A Registered Behavior Technician (RBT®) is a paraprofessional certification in behavior analysis. All of our RBTs have undergone 40 hours of training, taken and passed an exam, and must renew their certification annually.
Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBA®) possess an undergraduate-level certification in behavior analysis. BCaBAs are required to complete continuing education and apply for recertification every two years.
Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA®) possess a graduate-level certification in behavior analysis. BCBAs are also required to complete continuing education and apply for recertification every two years.
There is no prescribed duration of time for a child to receive ABA therapy. While we love watching your kids learn and grow, we understand that the ultimate goal of therapy is to prepare children for moving on to school successfully. Most children spend 2-3 years with an ABA therapist.
MMAT is for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) whose families want them in an environment that cultivates social skills, language development, and increased independence. Because we are a sister institution to Maria Montessori International, we are able to provide one-on-one therapy for children right alongside their typical developing peers. This allows your child to interact socially in a typical setting, make friends, and build a solid foundation for success when they transition to school.
Many people know Maria Montessori as a pioneer in the education field, but her revolutionary education style began after working with children who had various disabilities. The Montessori focus on personalization in education coupled with natural approaches lends itself to teaching children of all abilities. Mindful and Modern Therapies was inspired by seeing many of our students with ASD flourishing in Montessori education. By bridging the gap we saw in connecting traditional therapy to learning, we found an effective way to treat students with ASD in a natural environment.
We believe Montessori brings purpose to therapy.
A natural environment includes objects such as real dishes that children learn how to use, clean, and put away. These small but important details prepare your child for functioning in the world. A garden area allows children to learn about nature and how they fit into the picture, as well as helping a child to see beyond their immediate surroundings. A natural environment for your child helps them to learn the skills they need to become life-long learners. This follows the principles of Montessori education, and encourages your child to develop their whole self – physically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually.
Yes! We believe children of all abilities can learn together and from one another. We create an environment where everyone can learn at their own pace, and benefit from their peers, regardless of ability.
Our Full Day program is from 8:30 to 3:30, while our half-day programs are either 8:30 am – 12:30 pm or 1:30 am-5:30 pm.
Our lunch is from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to ABA therapy, as each child is different. We approach every child on a case-by-case basis and make recommendations accordingly. Some of our children attend a half-day session in combination with a half-day at school.
We take the following insurances for any of our therapeutic services:
- Indiana Medicaid
- Medicaid Managed Care
- Anthem Medicaid
- CareSource Medicaid
Our therapy is currently covered by the following insurers:
- Indiana Medicaid
- Medicaid Managed Care
- Anthem Medicaid
- CareSource Medicaid
While we currently do not offer speech therapy for children with ASD, we are looking into adding it as a service in the near future. Stay tuned and do not hesitate to inquire with us about it.
The Mindful and Modern therapies we use are suitable for children from as young as birth to as old as 9 years old.