Many people associate the terminology “Applied Behavior Analysis” (ABA) with treating autistic patients; however, this is not the only condition that ABA can help with. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) treats and enhances behaviors like communication, social skills, low academic performance, and similar psychological issues. Home, school, clinics, and the workplace are just some places where ABA may be employed with children and adults.
So what other conditions can benefit from ABA therapy? Before we get to that, let’s discuss what ABA therapy is.
What Is ABA Therapy?
Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) is a therapeutic approach to address and reduce challenging behaviors. As the name suggests, the first step is figuring out what sets off the behaviors and then developing strategies for replacing them with more beneficial ones. Consequently, ABA may help with all the conditions that are based on behavior.
This therapy aims to change behaviors using specific training techniques, such as positive reinforcement, to achieve more significant results. It can include eliminating or reducing frustration caused by a child’s behavior or training a child with disabilities in appropriate social skills. Applied behavioral analysis (ABA) is often regarded as the most effective therapy for kids with ASD and other developmental disorders. However, it is also sometimes used to treat other conditions as well.
So what does ABA therapy do for people with behavioral conditions, and how does it improve their quality of life?
In this article, we will discuss some common conditions that can benefit from ABA therapy and take a detailed look into how that is made possible. Let’s get started.
Conditions That Can Benefit from ABA Therapy
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autistic disorder manifests primarily in social and communicative deficits. Autistic persons have a distinct way of communicating from the general population. People with autism can range from entirely nonverbal to socially uncomfortable along a spectrum. Extreme sensitivities to the senses of touch, taste, sight, hearing, and smell are also associated with autism. Because of their inability to communicate with others and cope with their bodily pain, people with autism frequently exhibit impatient and violent actions.
Through rewards and reinforcement, ABA therapists can assist persons with autism in learning to speak in ways others will understand. Close friends and family members also benefit from ABA since it teaches them how to better connect with their autistic loved ones.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often exhibit symptoms of impulsivity, hyperactivity, and a lack of ability to focus or sit still. While the patient may still have ADHD, the symptoms may be manageable with the intervention of a skilled ABA therapist. The therapist can help by instructing the patient to focus their attention on their bodies in a relaxed manner and to pause before acting on impulse. The goal of ABA is to help children learn to solve problems without resorting to punishment rather than acting impulsively.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, is a mental health condition characterized by excessive anxiety and repetitive thoughts that lead to compulsive behaviors. These compulsions can range from washing hands excessively to counting things in order.
ABA therapists work with OCD people to face their anxieties and overcome them. They help clients identify triggers of obsessions and develop strategies to combat compulsions.
ABA Therapy teaches them how to recognize and respond to their triggers. Then, they will teach the client how to practice strategies for confronting these fears so that they do not cause any more harm than necessary—for example:
- If you are worried about forgetting your keys, put them somewhere else where you won’t have trouble finding them later.
- If you feel like crying at work, in public, or around friends who know about your OCD symptoms but do nothing, tell someone who can help distract you from those feelings.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is commonly associated with military personnel, although it can also affect anybody who has experienced severe trauma. When specific cues resurrect distressing memories of the initial event, the person with PTSD may experience acute terror and anxiety. ABA therapists help people with PTSD by prompting them to recall traumatic events in safe, controlled settings.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is a severe form of childhood-onset psychiatric disorder that can persist into adulthood. The most common symptoms include anger, defiant behavior, and mood swings.
Children with ODD often have trouble making friends and maintaining relationships with others. Odd behavior is usually directed towards adults rather than other children in their peer group.
With Oppositional Defiant Disorder, your child may be oppositional or defiant because they are testing their limits or refusing to follow directions from adults around them. ABA therapy helps teach children how to communicate better with others, manage emotions better when angry or upset, and change negative behavior patterns.
ABA therapy teaches a child with ODD how to behave appropriately by using positive reinforcement. It is often used alongside other treatments, including parent training and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
ABA has been shown to help children with the oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) improve their social skills, problem-solving abilities, self-control, and more.
Borderline Personality Disorder
BPD is a brain disorder in which a person’s ability to regulate emotions is impacted, which causes extreme mood swings. This emotional control loss can increase impulsivity and negatively impact their relationships with others. It is sometimes known as manic depression, but it is not the same as anxiety or depression.
ABA Therapy is known as the “Golden Age” treatment for BPD. It teaches BPD patients skills and strategies such as:
- How best to interact with others by changing the negative behaviors
- How to stay calm when under stress and depression by exposing them to disturbing events (exposure therapy)
- What constitutes appropriate behavior toward others (including self-care)
- How to have better control of their emotions and control social anxiety (chaining therapy)
ABA Therapy is one of the most effective methods to treat various disorders. It can improve behavior and social skills, reduce anxiety and stress, improve attention and concentration levels, give you confidence, and help with memory issues.
Putting the right approach into practice can help your loved ones get back on track and live happier lives.