Autism is an extremely common diagnosis, but covers an astounding range of levels. Autism includes those people who are highly functional, as well as those people who are in need of some higher level of care. Applied behavior analysis therapy has proven to be a successful program when exercised in the lives of individuals who have been diagnosed with autism and other conditions of similar interpretation. This program is used to assist children between 0 and 18 years of age to develop their daily life skills, speech, and social skills, as well as academics.
When applied behavior analysis therapy is begun with children under four years old, it is referred to as early intervention. In many of these cases, toddlers and children who have undergone therapy considered to be intensive, which is 25 to 40 hours per week for one to three years, have been able to enter school in a regular classroom environment needing no further assistance. The technique of applied behavior analysis therapy prepares these children for age appropriate self care as well as social skills.
This program has been extremely successful with many young children. There are, however, children who do not respond as well to this therapy and continue to need further assistance well into their school years. The program is usually 40 hours per week for at least two years. It is an intensive program which offers one on one therapy, or teaching, year round. There has also been some success with children who have received aba therapy for only 20 hours per week; however, the most intensive 40 hour program seems to be the most rewarding for the children as they move on to a classroom situation.
Applied behavior analysis therapy is also showing itself to be effective in adolescents and adults. Most people in recent years have assumed that if no treatment is received by individuals with autism when they are children, they will go through life struggling with that diagnosis and all that it brings with it. However, it has now been proven that this type of therapy is successful with older, teenage children as well as adults. Life skills are taught as well as organizational skills. Job preparation is addressed, and individuals receive the tools they need to live successfully as an adult. It is an unfortunate fact that among people between the ages of 19 and 23 who are autistic and have finished high school, 35% have not worked at a job nor have they gone on to receive any type of college or technical education.
As stated earlier, the common misconception about adult autism used to be if an individual did not receive any type of therapy as a child, there was no possibility of helping them once they reached adulthood. Studies in recent years have shown that, although it was believed that at a certain age the brain stopped changing and evolving, so to speak, this was not true. It is now known that the brain’s evolution is a lifelong process. This knowledge has revolutionized the idea that it is never too late! There are unlimited numbers of adults with autism who have benefited from aba therapy and now live functional, productive lives.
Applied behavior analysis therapy has become well known and widely used not only as an effective therapy for individuals with autism, but a completely safe treatment as well. The U.S. Surgeon General’s office as well as other government organizations now endorse this treatment which, because of its success, has been increasingly used over the past ten years. It includes many levels of treatment, such as learning to look and listen, reading, and even learning to understand someone else’s perspective.