ABA Therapy For Adults With Autism

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the science of behavior change, whether changing undesirable behaviors or increasing skills such as academics. ABA utilizes a wide variety of strategies to support individuals with behavior change. It is most commonly thought of as a treatment for autism but has application with other populations and other settings. It uses motivation and constant feedback to help individuals know what is expected and when they are being successful. Data is taken and used to drive decisions about the success of an intervention, need to modify an intervention, and achieving a goal being worked on. We rely on objective data to drive treatment.

All of our programs utilize ABA therapy for adults with autism and have a long history of involvement with ground-breaking research to help further the resources and knowledge around autism. Our research findings are incorporated into our programming, training, and facilities to give our clients the most effective and evidence-based treatment. We also provide training, internship and practicum experiences, and supervision for students from many different programs of study. We feel it is important to contribute to training new professionals going into the field in best practices for working with individuals with autism.

ABA Therapy Outcome

The Effectiveness of Applied Behavior Analysis

ABA for adults with autism incorporates a number of strategies that use scientific learning and behavior principles to encourage the increase of desired learning and behavior, as well as the decrease of unwanted behavior (e.g., aggression, self-injurious behavior). ABA has significant research supporting its effectiveness in helping individuals reach successful outcomes in many areas including language, daily living skills, social skills, and academic skills.

Most often, people view ABA as discrete trial training, which is one component of ABA therapy for adults with autism. Our classroom staff works with groups of one, two, or three adults so each adult can have individualized goals and programs. The staff member introduces a request to each adult individually. If the adult responds correctly, they receive reinforcement. If the adult responds incorrectly, the staff will use error correction techniques to help them learn and eventually display the correct response. We track data on every response and the data help determine future sessions. Our Adult Autism Center has Board Certified Behavioral Analysts (BCBA) that are trained to provide behavioral analysis and assist with research efforts. Our research findings are incorporated into our programming, training, and facilities to give our students the most effective and up-to-date education.

Where Does ABA Treatment Come From?

ABA was first developed by Ivar Lovaas based on the work of B.F. Skinner. Early forms of ABA included using reinforcement and punishment, but ABA no longer utilizes punishment as part of its application. Today, data is taken on every response and any behavior the individual may be exhibiting. The data is collected throughout the day and is used to drive ongoing interventions.

Key Scientific Elements Of ABA for Adults with Autism

  • Discrete trial training
  • Chaining, prompting
  • Shaping
  • Fading
  • Task analysis
  • Reinforcement
  • Incidental teaching/naturalistic teaching strategies
  • Visual supports
  • Schedules
  • Prompting
  • Modeling
  • Time delay
  • Video modeling
  • Social narratives

Individualized ABA Therapy to Each Patient

Each patient receives an intake evaluation that determines diagnoses, placement, strengths, and areas for improvement. The classroom staff complete developmental assessments with the individual to determine levels of functionality among different domains. All of this information is used to meet with the parents/caregiver and develop individualized goals. The classroom staff uses these goals to develop individual programs for each individual.

Ongoing Research

The strategies used at the Adult Autism Center address a broad range of developmental, academic, vocational, and functional skill areas with the ultimate goal of preparing the clients for the most independence they can have in their day to day life. We use evidence-based practices included in the National Autism Center’s National Standard Report to teach clients new socially significant behaviors, skills, and concepts.

The Adult Autism Center and Carmen B. Pingree Autism Center of Learning have extensive research connections to several universities in groundbreaking research. These connections include UCLA, Stanford University, Utah State University and the University of Utah studying genetics, prevalence rates, basic research, medical and behavioral treatments, and educational interventions.

We have partnered with professors at the University of Utah to complete two research studies at the Adult Autism Center of Lifetime Learning. The studies will focus on implementing newly developed programs for social skills and vocational skill development and its application with adults with ASD.

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