Applied Behaviour Analysis
Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is a therapy based on the science of learning and behaviour.
Behaviour analysis helps us to understand:
- How behaviour works
- How behaviour is affected by the environment
- How learning takes place
ABA therapy applies our understanding of how behaviour works to real situations. The goal is to increase behaviors that are helpful and decrease behaviors that are harmful or affect learning.
ABA therapy programs can help:
- Increase language and communication skills
- Improve attention, focus, social skills, memory, and academics
- Decrease problem behaviors
The methods of behaviour analysis have been used and studied for decades. They have helped many kinds of learners gain different skills – from healthier lifestyles to learning a new language. Therapists have used ABA to help children with autism and related developmental disorders since the 1960s.
Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)
The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is a comprehensive, behavioral early intervention program for young children with or suspected of having Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) aged between 12-48 months. It was developed by Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D. and Sally Rogers, Ph.D.
It can be implemented in different settings, including at home, at school or in a clinical setting. The therapy can also be implemented on a one-to-one or group basis.
The developmentally sequenced curriculum specifically targets areas in which children with ASD may have difficulty. Key target areas include reciprocal social interactions, communication skills, shared attention, imitation, receptive and expressive language skills, cognitive skills and play skills.
Therapy is child-led and relationship-focused. It is based strongly on empirically validated teaching techniques such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Some of the key features of the Early Start Denver Model include:
- Deep parental involvement
- Teaching is delivered within affect-based, positive relationships
- Teaching occurs through natural play-based interactions
- Joint activities that reinforce shared involvement
- The child and adult are important and active participants. Both partners offer ideas, take turns and share the responsibility for initiating, developing and ending activities
- A sensitivity to normal toddler learning and development
The ESDM model is effective for children with a wide range of learning styles and abilities.
Occupational therapy is intended for people whose daily lives (e.g. personal care, leisure, school / studies / work) are affected by difficulties in various skills (e.g. cognitive, organizational, social, motor, sensory, play).
The goal of occupational therapy is to allow people to improve their performance in their everyday life, to be more independent, to take part in a wide range of meaningful activities and to promote their social participation.
Therapy begins with an assessment that identifies the elements that support or hinder the performance of the person in their activities of daily life.
The intervention objectives are then discussed with the child and parents and can relate to all activities of daily life, for example :
- Personal care (e.g. dressing, hygiene, meals)
- Leisure (e.g. games, outdoor activities, crafts)
- Education (e.g. graphomotor activities, organization, relationships with peers)
Speech-language therapy addresses challenges with language and communication. It can help improve verbal, nonverbal, and social communication. The overall goal is to help the child communicate in more useful and functional ways.
Communication and speech-related challenges vary from person to person. Some children are not able to speak. Others love to talk, but have difficulty holding a conversation or understanding body language and facial expressions when talking with others.
A speech therapy program begins with an evaluation by a speech-language pathologist (SLP) to assess the person’s communication strengths and challenges. From this evaluation, the SLP creates individual goals for therapy.
Common goals may include improving spoken language, learning nonverbal skills such as signs or gestures, or learning to communicate using an alternative method (such as pictures or technology).
Examples of the skills that speech therapy may work on include:
- Strengthening the muscles in the mouth, jaw and neck
- Making clearer speech sounds
- Matching emotions with the correct facial expression
- Understanding body language
- Responding to questions
- Modulating tone of voice
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for children and adolescents usually are short-term treatments (i.e., often between six and 20 sessions) that focus on teaching children and/or their parents specific skills. CBT differs from other therapy approaches by focusing on the ways that a child or adolescent’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are interconnected, and how they each affect one another. Because emotions, thoughts, and behaviors are all linked, CBT approaches allow for therapists to intervene at various points in the cycle. Treatment is goal-oriented to resolve present-day problems. Therapy involves working step-by-step to achieve goals.
These treatments have been proven to be effective in treating many psychological disorders among children and adolescents, such as anxiety, depression, emotional regulation and behaviour problems.