Often Analytical Behavioral Therapy (ABA) uses tools every child needs to learn and intensifies them for the Autistic child. This can look strange when you watch a session, but when you understand the underlying reasons it makes total sense. There are many different ways this can be seen, but one way is with Rote learning.
Many children learn through the process of Rote learning; Rote learning is the act of memorizing. Sometimes with Analytical Behavioral Therapy (ABA) things are repeated to our child many times, over and over again in the first stage of learning to facilitate Rote learning. It may seem alien to watch a therapist repetitively teach something to your child, but we as parents do this too. We repeat numbers, songs, objects and request many times a day.
One example of this is to repeat numbers often. Once a child learns the basics of counting, they can apply that in an abstract way perhaps to objects; how many marbles are in a bag? For example, the same process is intensified in ABA therapy so your child can quickly learn concepts on a basic and then advanced level.
The reason an ABA model does this is because conceptual learning is often confusing for an Autistic child. Once they learn one rule, they will think it’s a ‘hard and fast’ rule and have a hard time applying extra rules to it; at least until that rule is solid in their mind. For example, a tree can be big or small. But what if you taught your child the trees were big, and they didn’t have time to memorize this concretely before you told them some trees are short? Autistic minds, being very literal, may think that now all trees are short. This is why it is important for a concept to be burned into their minds before they are able to understand new concepts.
However, this doesn’t mean your therapist should be repeating concepts such as this is blue, until your child is bored or even upset. This won’t give your child a positive experience or allow them to learn anything at all. Often you will see things repeated depending on the child, this could be four times or eight times or more. ABA is always a very individualized therapy that should be just challenging enough to teach your child but not too challenging or boring to upset them.