FACE specializes in helping children with autism, pervasive development disorder and other learning and behavior concerns with specialized programs using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).
Many children naturally learn from their environment – i.e., without intervention – but children who have learning, developmental or behavior concerns learn less from their environment than their peers might. They often need a structured environment where they have opportunities to acquire the same fundamental skills that other children may pick up naturally. ABA sets up this type of environment for them – in essence, teaching children how to learn.
ABA is used to develop basic skills like listening and imitating as well as more complex skills such as reading and having conversations. ABA also decreases behaviors that interfere with learning.
Complex skills are often broken down into small steps. Dividing each skill into a series of smaller steps allows the child to learn a skill in stages. The individual steps are then individually taught using prompts, which are gradually eliminated as the steps are mastered. Every time the child achieves the desired result, he or she receives positive reinforcement that keeps him or her motivated to continually improve. Upon mastery, the child can then integrate the skill into his or her everyday life. During this process, behavior analysts at FACE systematically track and evaluate progress throughout the entire process.
Another core element of ABA therapy is reducing and replacing problem behaviors, such as self-injury or aggression, with more appropriate behavior. Behavior analysts work with parents and guardians to identify problem behaviors and why they are occurring. Once the motive is determined, the behavior analyst will develop a plan to teach new skills, such as communication, to replace the inappropriate behavior.
ABA therapy procedures have been thoroughly researched and found to be effective, and they are strongly supported by the scientific community. Thousands of published and peer-reviewed studies have demonstrated the value of this therapy in treating people with Autism Spectrum Disorders, learning and behavior concerns, and related disorders. A number of the children who participated in early intensive ABA acquired skills that allowed them, within a few years of the therapy, to participate in mainstream classrooms with little or no ongoing help. Moreover, many children who receive ABA improve their quality of life – and that of their families – learn to function in the community, hold jobs as adults, and develop lasting personal relationships. ABA is recommended and supported by the U.S. Surgeon General and the American Academy of Pediatrics, among other reputable organizations.
In the fields of autism and other disabilities, emphasis has been placed on using only evidence-based practices – those whose effectiveness have been proven using scientific methods – in delivering services. ABA is a prime example of this shift, because its procedures have been thoroughly studied and verified. Also of significance is that the therapy’s practical impact on a single individual can also be studied. This is important, as our objective at FACE is to help every child, regardless of ability, meet his or her individual goals and achieve a productive, high-quality life.