About Autism and ABA

If you suspect your child has autism, or if he or she has already received a diagnosis, we understand that you likely have a lot of questions. What is autism? What are the symptoms? The treatment options? The chances of success? Below you’ll find answers to many of your questions about autism, as well as information about Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which is the most scientifically supported treatment for autism.

What is Autism?

Autism (autism spectrum disorder) is a developmental disorder that includes delays in language development and social development. Autism is often characterized by repetitive, stereotyped, and/or self-stimulatory behaviors. Deficits in communication often cause individuals with autism to engage in a variety of problematic behaviors.

Approximately 1 in 53 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, according to the latest numbers from the CDC.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms and their severity vary widely across three core areas. Taken together, they may result in relatively mild challenges for some, or symptoms may be more severe and interfere with everyday life. While autism is usually a lifelong condition, all children and adults benefit from interventions, or therapies, that can reduce symptoms and increase skills and abilities. Although it is best to begin intervention as soon as possible, the benefits of therapy can continue throughout life.

Social Challenges

  • Delays in developing nonverbal communication skills, facial expressions, and body language
  • Failure to establish friendships with peers
  • Lack of interest in showing crafts, buildings, etc. to peers or adults
  • Difficulty understanding the emotions of others

Communication Difficulties

  • Delay in, or lack of, speech
  • Difficulties initiating or sustaining communication
  • Repeating the same word or phrase over and over
  • Difficulty understanding humor, sarcasm, and idioms

Repetitive Behaviors

  • Preoccupation/obsession with certain topics
  • A need for predictability and routines
  • Stress caused by slight changes, which may lead to outbursts
  • Self-simulating behaviors such as body rocking and hand flapping


Because early intervention is very important, you should act immediately if you suspect that your child may have autism. Autism can be diagnosed as early as 18 months, and it’s possible to detect signs of autism even sooner than that. Contact us today to schedule a diagnostic evaluation.

What is ABA?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a scientific method that focuses on how learning takes place. It addresses how behaviors are formed, established, and how they can be changed.

ABA therapy uses the principles of reinforcement to increase appropriate behaviors and decrease inappropriate behaviors. Strengths are built upon and deficits are replaced with skills in order to help the individual be more successful in his or her environment. Simple changes to the environment are used to bring about meaningful and positive change in behavior.

ABA is the most scientifically supported treatment for autism. First developed by B.F. Skinner in the late 1930s, this therapy is backed by decades of research and proven results. ABA is recommended by the U.S. Surgeon General and American Academy of Pediatrics.

Principles of ABA Therapy

  • Comprehensive assessment
  • Emphasis on understanding the current and future value of behaviors targeted for treatment
  • Focus on establishing small units of behavior which build towards larger changes and increased independence
  • Collecting direct observation data on targets
  • Managing the environment to maximize progress
  • Linking the function (reason) of the behavior to the intervention strategies
  • Creation of an individualized treatment plan
  • Ongoing and frequent direct assessment, analysis, and adjustments to the plan
  • Direct support and training of family members and other professionals

What Can ABA Teach?

Social Skills

Requesting to peers, responding to peer’s requests, parallel play, etc.

Receptive Language

Identifying items, following directions, etc.

Expressive Language

Requesting, labeling items, answering questions, etc.

Daily Living Skills

Toothbrushing, dressing, toileting, showering, etc.

Vocational Skills

Grocery shopping, sorting functional items, etc.