An Introduction to ASD and ABA

Autism & Behavioural Services (ABS) at TVCC use a variety of treatment applications that are based on Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) to support children and youth with autism (ASD) and their families.

Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Impairment and challenges in two key areas:

1.    Social Communication & Interaction

  • The areas of Social Communication and Social Interaction are often talked about together, as they are very closely linked in terms of how one engages with others in their world.
  • Impairments in this area include, but are not limited to challenges with social and emotional interactions, communication and language understanding, as well as the ability or desire to develop and maintain relationships with others.

2.    Rigid or Repetitive Behaviour

  • Rigid or Repetitive Behaviour focuses on specific things that will influence how one moves through daily routines, activities and different environments – especially as it relates to social exchanges.
  • This can include stereotyped or repetitive speech or motor movements, inflexible routines, restrictive patterns of behaviour, and/or hyper-or hypo-reactivity to sensory aspects of the environment.

As autism is a spectrum disorder, examples of symptoms you may read about or observe are just that, examples. Each individual with autism is different and what their behaviour(s) look like in relation to these key areas of functioning will be unique to them.

Sensory Overload

Sensory overload and over-sensitivity to things in the environment (e.g., noise, fluorescent lights, or strong odours) are common and can be very distressing to individuals with autism.

For example:

  • A ringing school bell can hurt a person with autism’s ears
  • Hair clippers might be unbearably loud for others
  • The tag on the back of a shirt can feel like sandpaper

Sensory overload can also be associated with receiving an overwhelming amount of information or the feeling when things just “don’t line up”.

What Is Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA)?

ABA is the scientific approach to understanding the functional relationship between behaviour and the environment.

This relationship applies for all living things in everyday life.

Clinicians with specialized training analyze this relationship to understand how one influences the other.

Why Do We Use ABA?

  • Scientific - ABA is an evidence-based practice; research supports ABA as a method to assist with learning and development related to behaviour change.
  • Beneficial - ABA strives to increase independence and make positive changes in behaviour that are meaningful to the individual, their family, school, and community.
  • Consistent and predictable - ABA strategies can be used across all settings and situations and are effective with not only those on the autism spectrum but apply to all human behaviour.
  • Individualized - At TVCC, all treatment plans are developed with the individual and their family and are specific to what is important for the individual.
  • Data-driven - In ABA, decisions about the strategies being applied are based on data measuring their effectiveness.

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