How can ABA help with Speech and Occupational Therapy?

Posted on June 15, 2016 · Posted in Parent Tips

Did you Know?!…

Speech pathologists, occupational therapists and behavior therapists often work together when treating children with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental delays. In co-treating children, we are able to target sensory processing, communication, and fine and gross motor skills through shared activities. In doing so, we share a basic understanding of each other’s area of expertise and value each other’s input.

How can ABA help with Speech and Occupational Therapy?

 There are many ways in which a behavior analyst can help all therapists achieve better outcomes from children during treatment sessions.  Understanding and using the principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA) can improve the effectiveness of other treatment methods and reduce interfering behaviors that often slow a child’s progress.

Because young children with autism often have severely restricted behavioral repertoires (e.g., language, social skills, following instructions), they may engage in challenging and inappropriate behaviors (e.g., hitting, crying) that can interfere with therapy programs. These behaviors often function to produce important reinforcers (e.g., attention, escape from task demands, tangible items). With the help of a behavior therapist, we can identify how antecedents and/or consequences can be analyzed and adjusted in order to teach replacement behaviors that will provide the same reinforcers in more socially acceptable ways (e.g., asking).

The following scenarios may indicate that important aspects of effective teaching may be lacking or missing in a treatment setting:

  • Child does not want to come for therapy and cries on arrival
  • Challenging behavior during treatment tasks
  • Child seems to gain a skill but cannot demonstrate it the next week
  • Lack of fluency and poor generalization of skills when out of the therapy setting