Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is an effective behavioural treatment programme widely used with children with autism to improve socially significant behaviours.
ABA makes meaningful changes in people's lives through the use of procedures that have been demonstrated to work. The goal of an ABA teaching environment is to build socially significant behaviours in a meaningful way and to a meaningful degree. Generalisation, spontaneity and fun are essential components of successful intervention.
A few years ago, Ireland was in the fortunate position of having 12 ABA schools that had been set up and staffed in a way that made possible comprehensive programmes for children with autism (Leslie, 2013). However, the changes implemented from 2010 mean this is far from being the case now. Members of the Division of Behaviour Analysis are either in or in close touch with these schools. They are now termed special schools and, because of the rules they operate under none of them can meet the specifications for an ABA school.
ABA aspires to help with serious behavioural problems. A serious behavioural problem is one that impairs the quality of life of the person to a significant degree, impacts negatively on the lives of others, is persistent (thus rarely goes away of its own accord), and is not readily removed by some simple or brief treatment or intervention.
Some of the problems of many children with autism meet these criteria. If help is not provided or not adequate, their behavioural problems may leave them trailing far behind their peers of the same age in personal, social and educational development.
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''If they can't learn the way we teach, we teach the way they learn'' ~ O. Ivar Lovaas