Author: Amber Music, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA
Editor: Alyssa Palmer
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the most effective treatment for children with autism, as supported by decades of research. As with any science, the field is continually evolving. ABA constantly utilizes new research findings and seeks to learn from consumers of this field (i.e. individuals with autism). All interventions that fall under the ABA umbrella must adhere to specific principles and consist of evidence-based practices, as defined by rigid research criteria. With that in mind, not all providers of ABA implement the interventions of our field in the same way. When choosing an ABA provider, it is important to understand their way of “doing ABA” and be comfortable with their methodology. Here is how we do ABA at JBK:
- First and foremost, all of our learners are treated with kindness, respect, and empathy.
- We care for our learners with patience and compassion, and focus on “child first” strategies when responding to their needs and behavior.
- Goals of therapy are individualized based on needs and interests of the child.
- Our therapy goals focus on building skills to help children live life independently, joyfully, and comfortably.
- We honor children’s unique identities, personalities, and differences.
- We support children’s mental health – goals may include teaching them how to identify their own emotions, how to express themselves, and how to embed emotional regulation skills into their everyday life.
- In collaboration with our occupational therapists, we find ways to both accommodate and alleviate sensory needs to help our learners live comfortably.
- We focus on building age-appropriate and developmentally-appropriate social skills that do not include uncomfortable or rigid rules for the child (i.e. maintaining eye contact).
- All forms of communication are honored and respected. In collaboration with our speech-language pathologists, we focus on teaching children how to communicate their needs and wants in a functional and socially understood way that will help them access their wants and needs across their lifespan.
- We always presume competence and have high expectations for all of our learners.
- Our therapy is a team effort, as the child is valued and viewed as an active team member in determining their goals and participation.
- Goals of therapy may include self-advocacy, such as using the word “no” or socially appropriate refusal behaviors, which are respected.
- Our therapy is fun! We focus on using engaging materials and strategies based on the unique interests of the child to make learning fun. This will often look and feel like structured playtime.
- We use positive, reinforcement-based interventions that do not include the use of threats, coercion, or loss of preferred items/activities.
- We immediately respond to a child’s signs of discomfort or stress with empathy and compassion. Our goal is always to help them communicate their needs in a constructive way that supports them through that moment.
- Our therapists are tuned into each child’s needs. Unstructured play time is important for all children and our learners are taught how to request “breaks” and “play time” so they can communicate and access time as they need it.
- We use data-based decisions to guide each child’s unique skill acquisition plan for each of their goals and adjust the way we teach based on the child’s response to our interventions.
- Parents are essential to the success of ABA and know their child best. Our team values, respects, and encourages frequent caregiver involvement and therapy sessions with their child, BCBA, and therapists.
At JoyBridge Kids, we truly believe in our mission statement: to create and deliver life-transforming experiences for every single child and family that we serve. Aside from utilizing a variety of ABA concepts and principles, this clinic prioritizes making the families and clients that walk through the doors feel seen, heard, and loved. At JoyBridge Kids, we work together as a team. From the Clinical Director to the BCBAs to all of the RBTs that work with our kiddos – we are all taking strides towards the same end goal; to help children with autism reach their brightest future! Through a foundational understanding of respect and kindness, high quality teaching and play-based learning, and family-oriented services, at JoyBridge Kids we are transforming that goal into a reality!