We have found that ABA can be of benefit to ALL children in reaching their individual potential. We have also found that the extent of benefit depends on the following factors:
- the quality of the Service Provider, including qualifications and extensive experience;
- the personal and social resources available to the parents, including how whole-heartedly they embrace ABA philosophy and practices, as well as how available they are to participate meaningfully in their child’s program;
- and the extent of the child’s own skills and challenges.
Perhaps the most important factor is the successful interaction of all of these components, resulting in a cohesive team working towards the same goal: your child’s growth and learning.
Research has focused primarily on young children (aged 2-4 years), but it’s never too late to start. There is clear evidence that the strategies of ABA can help individuals of all ages.
The treatment program is individualized for children with their own unique needs. It’s a common misconception that ABA doesn’t apply to children who are higher functioning, when in fact, the strategies are incredibly effective for this population.
We were involved in the ground breaking study conducted at UCLA in which nine of the 19 children who received intensive intervention achieved “recovery”. This study demonstrated that “recovery” is achievable.
Since the study at UCLA we have continued our research efforts but in a clinical setting. Our results show that more than 80 children whom we have treated have achieved “recovery”.
There are several factors that influence outcome. There are factors that can be controlled such as age at the start of intervention, intensity of intervention and quality of intervention. There are factors we cannot control that are critical as well, such as cognitive ability. Outcome is based upon the combination of these factors.
Isn't it true that even after many years of intensive behavioral therapy some autistic children remain autistic?
Certainly. Not every child achieves “recovery.” However, a high percentage of children make outstanding progress and are able to enjoy a much higher quality of life.
It is critical that parents have realistic expectations but understand that recovery is a possibility if their child receives quality treatment at an early age. Although less than 50 percent of children under the best conditions “recover,” the vast majority of children can make outstanding progress.
In the study conducted at UCLA, the children were diagnosed by independent evaluators. Additionally, at the time of the study High Functioning Autism did not exist. Analogously, if someone suffers from depression and after treatment they no longer show the signs, would one say they were never depressed? Or if someone suffered a stroke and after intensive speech, occupational and physical therapy the symptoms disappeared, would one say they never had a stroke?
There are signs that are favorable, but not absolute. Children that have the presence of language, social interest and disruptive behavior tend to do better than those children who do not communicate, are socially unresponsive and passive.