Facebook Page

Who Benefits from ABA Therapy?

You may be wondering, “Who is ABA Therapy for? Could it benefit my child?”

Maybe you have a child who is newly diagnosed with Autism, or you’re already well into this journey. Maybe you suspect that your child has Autism, and you are beginning your research process. Whatever your reasons – we are glad you are here!

In this article, we’ll explain who benefits most from Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy, and provide information on what it is, how it works, and Westside’s specific methodology.

ABA Therapy is used around the world in people of all ages to treat Autism, as well as ADHD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, PTSD, and other conditions. However, it is only covered by insurance for those who have an Autism diagnosis. At Westside, we provide ABA Therapy for children ages 2-18.

ABA Therapy works to improve:

  • Language and communication skills
  • Attention and focus
  • Social and play skills
  • Safety skills
  • School readiness and academic skills
  • Self-care and daily living skills
  • Self-management skills

If your child with Autism is experiencing challenging behaviors or needs help in any of the areas above, ABA Therapy may be beneficial.

What is Applied Behavior Analysis?

Applied Behavior Analysis is an evidence-based therapy that focuses on understanding behavior and addressing individual cognitive, behavioral, social, and executive functioning needs.

The root of ABA is in behavior analysis – the “why” behind a behavior. Because without understanding why a child is behaving or responding in a certain way, it’s very difficult to change that behavior or response.

The analysis portion of ABA Therapy helps us understand:

  • The underlying reason or motivation behind a behavior
  • How that behavior might be affected by different environments
  • The best way to help a child learn

Based on this analysis, our goal is to increase positive behaviors and reduce problematic or challenging behaviors, as well as to develop new self-management, social, communication, and daily living skills.

How does ABA Therapy work?

ABA Therapy always begins with a comprehensive assessment to see where your child is developmentally and what areas we’ll focus on. Ongoing therapy is always 1:1 at Westside, and the therapist will be working on the skills in each child’s individual program. 

This individualized attention allows for a strong relationship to be built between the therapist and the child. In addition, the therapist simply has more time and attention to focus on these goals, compared to a traditional school setting. We always move at the child’s pace, because each child comes to us with a unique set of needs. 

In addition to our ABA Therapy, we offer several ABA Programs at Westside, including:

  • IGNITE – school readiness program for children ages 2-6
  • RISE – school readiness program for more advanced skills, ages 5-8
  • FOCUS – an after-school program for additional support, typically ages 9+

Our programs use the same ABA principles, and therapy is still 1:1, but is conducted in a group setting with multiple children. This is a great opportunity for practicing social and school-readiness skills!

Initial Evaluation and Ongoing Assessment

We always begin with a parent interview, which is around one hour. From this interview, we will learn about the specific challenges the child and family are facing, what kind of goals the parents have for their child, and most importantly – what brings the child joy.

This interview is an important step in the process because it helps us understand what you are most concerned with. What are the tasks or times of day that are most difficult for the child and/or your family? This is also a time to think through what your goals may be as a family:

  • Would you like to be able to eat at a restaurant together but you are worried about meltdowns?
  • Would you like to take a vacation but have concerns about your child’s sensory sensitivities?
  • Would you like your child to be potty trained, or be able to get dressed independently to help make the morning routine go more smoothly?

We are here to partner with you on these goals, however large or small they may be!

Next, we do an initial evaluation with the child, which is typically around 2 hours. Based on this and the parent meeting, we build out an individualized therapy plan and schedule ongoing sessions. 

We are constantly monitoring and measuring growth throughout our therapy sessions, with the end goal of mastering skills. Most insurance requires a 6-month update for reauthorization, which is when we will do a comprehensive review. However, we are constantly tracking every single goal and will add new ones to the plan that are age and skill-level appropriate.

What about my High-Functioning Child with Autism?

Sometimes, parents will ask about their child with Autism who is presenting as “mild” or “high-functioning”, and if ABA is a good fit. Our answer is that ABA Therapy at Westside is completely built around the unique needs and challenges of the child. If there are fewer needs and challenges, then fewer hours may be needed. 

Each child with Autism presents differently, and we prefer not to look at their “level”, but instead as unique humans who have their own strengths, challenges, personalities, and preferences.

We generally require a minimum of 10 hours per week, or 50% of the recommended hours, to get the maximum benefit from ABA Therapy.

Our ABA Philosophy

At Westside, we use an approach called “Today’s ABA”, which was created by Dr. Greg Hanley. He is a highly respected Fellow of the American Psychological Association and has published over 100 articles for peer-reviewed journals focusing on Autism and behavior analysis.

First and foremost, we emphasize LISTENING to the child and showing empathy for their feelings. We respect when they say no or don’t like something. At Westside, your child is heard, respected, and appreciated.

We believe in a child-centered approach that is play-based and in a natural environment. We believe in fun and engaging interactions, and positive and empowering relationships. 

Today’s ABA is all about listening, creating joy, and empowering the child in a safe, trusting environment.

What is the Process to get Started?

Our goal is to support your child’s growth and success, make daily life easier for your family, and create a positive, fun experience for everyone involved! To begin, simply follow the link below or call us at (815) 469-1500 and our team will guide you through the process.