Many children on the Autism spectrum have trouble with speech. This could be because of Apraxia which is a motor disorder that makes it hard for children to use their mouths to form words, or maybe they simply can’t communicate as well as the rest of us. This doesn’t mean they can’t communicate in other ways such as picture cards, behavior (good and bad), sign language and electronic devices.
But can Applied Behavioral Analyses (ABA) help a child who is non-verbal?
The short answer is yes.
ABA is essentially performing an antecedent (an action, a request), the child performs a behavior, and then there is a consequence for the behavior. Either they get it right and there’s positive displays of fun and cheering, or the child is shown again. If they still get it wrong a hand is placed on theirs to guide them to the answer so they are correct (queue cheers and happy words).
Think of all the ways a non-verbal child could respond to this without words. They could hand over an object, use picture cards or electronics to communicate speech, point, or even sign their response. Not being able to speak would not hinder your child to learn.
In fact, VB is a branch of ABA that teaches children how to communicate. So ABA techniques can help teach your child to speak too. It uses much of the same principles including errorless learning. This means your child is never wrong and receive prompts as much as needed – which like ABA are faded out as the child learns.
As parents, we use ABA tools all the time. We ask a child to get up to the table to eat, the child does, we praise the child. This is partly ABA! Being able to speak or not speak would never hinder your child to learn positive behaviors and in turn learn that the world will reward them for all the good that they do.