A complete guide to ABA therapy
Board-certified behaviour analysts Lauren Miles and Inas Ktaech answer some of our questions on how ABA therapy works
What is ABA?
Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is the science of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of behaviour to improve socially significant behaviours. The goal is to decrease challenging behaviours.
A board-certified behaviour analyst (BCBA) provides ABA therapy services. A BCBA must have a master’s degree or PhD in behaviour analysis or a related field and pass a certification exam.
What does the BCBA certification entail?
A board-certified behaviour analyst (BCBA) provides ABA therapy services. A BCBA must have a master’s degree or PhD in behaviour analysis or a related field and pass a certification exam. ABA therapy programmes also involve registered behaviour technicians. These therapists are supervised by the BCBA. They work directly with people with autism to help them practice skills and work on the goals determined by the BCBA.
Could you tell us about the ABA therapy programme that you offer at the Doris Duan-Young (DDY) Autism Center?
At DDY, we provide a multidisciplinary approach to children with autism and developmental disabilities. We teach them communication, social and self-help skills, help improve their gross motor and fine motor skills and enhance their articulation difficulties. We create behaviour plans to help reduce challenging behaviours and replace these with more acceptable behaviours. We provide therapy on a one-on-one basis and train parents in order to ensure skills transfer to the home, school and community.
What are the short- and long-term benefits of this therapy?
Progress in communication skills, social skills, academic and self-help skills such as eating and toilet training are some of the key benefits of this therapy. Parent training helps increase generalisation of skills to the home, school and community.
Every child with autism is unique, therefore one strategy does not always work the same way for every child. If positive reinforcement does not work for a particular behaviour, then we utilise other behavioural strategies.
Positive reinforcement of desired behaviour is the key element of ABA therapy. Does this always work?
Positive reinforcement is one of the main strategies used in ABA. When a behaviour is followed by a reward, a person is more likely to repeat that behavior. However, every child with autism is unique, therefore one strategy does not always work the same way for every child. If positive reinforcement does not work for a particular behaviour, then we utilise other behavioural strategies.
How does DDY customise therapies to suit unique needs of a child?
DDY delivers individualised treatment with a range of services to meet the needs of each child. We employ highly skilled professionals. This includes BCBA, board-certified assistant behaviour analysts, psychologist, speech language therapist, occupational therapist, physical therapist and registered behaviour therapist. We work with our multidisciplinary team to identify and provide an individualised treatment plan based on the needs of each child.
What is the role of parents in this therapy?
In order for any ABA programme to be successful in all environments, parent involvement is crucial. At DDY, we strongly encourage and promote parent training. Attending parent workshops and parent training sessions is a great way to help your child generalise and maintain all the skills learned in their ABA programme.
Addressing childhood apraxia of speech (CAS)
In conversation with Navnit Kumar, Head of speech and language therapy (SLT) department, DDY Autism Center
What is childhood apraxia of speech (CAS)? How common is it in the UAE?
CAS is a rare speech disorder in which a child has difficulty in making accurate movements of the articulators — face, tongue, lips and jaw — to produce speech sounds. Sometimes, there is nothing wrong with the muscles of articulators, and the child is able to chew, swallow and cough. But, the specific information coming from the brain to the muscles of articulators on how to move to make a sound or series of sounds is affected or not developed completely. This results in CAS. In the UAE, 30 per cent of children with neurobehavioural disorders such as autism, epilepsy, fragile X and Rett syndrome are affected with CAS.
In the UAE, 30 per cent of children with neurobehavioural disorders such as autism, epilepsy, fragile X and Rett syndrome are affected with CAS.
How could you help children overcome this problem?
The treatment for CAS emphasises movement patterns using the technique of shaping and sensory cueing. DDY provides evidence-based treatment such as PROMPT (Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets), Rapid Syllable Transitions (ReST), Dynamic Temporal and Tactile Cueing (DTTC), and Augmentative and Augmentative Communication (AAC). Currently, the SLT department has four PROMPT-certified therapists to treat CAS.
Parents talk about DDY Autism Center
"Thanks a lot to all the staff members at DDY Autism Center for taking good care of our children. It means a lot to us knowing that our kids are in safe hands.”
Souzan Ahmed Ali Yousef
"Muhammad receives his sessions in the centre and he is happy with that. I found a great improvement in him, despite his short duration at the centre. The staff are creative, making every effort to help improve and develop my child, and they are very cooperative. I am satisfied with the centre and all its employees.”
Alia Mohammad Rashed Albawardi
"I would like to thank the team at DDY Autism Center for their support. My son, Faisal, feels that this centre is his second home. I would like to thank the team for the care, attention, and affection that you have given to my son.”
Abdulrahman Othman Alshabanah
For more information, visit Ddyautismcenter.com or call 04 431 2890