When it comes to your Autistic child and applied behavioral analyses (ABA), it’s important that all sorts of factors are measured. This means your therapist will be using charts, data and numbers to determine the best course of action. But why would they do this?
One reason is a prediction. When a child needs to reduce problematic behavior it’s measured rather clinically so the therapist can work towards a realistic goal. Some measurements to achieve this are; when a behavior happens, where, with whom, and how often.
Measurements can also be a great help for the parent as we see changes we wouldn’t otherwise have noticed. For instance, a child does something once not three times, or for two minutes less. Predictions predict where a child will be in a few months time. Measurement lets us see how far they have come.
Another great thing about observing and measuring behavior is we start to see patterns emerging. Patterns tell us why the child is behaving the way they are so we can form a hypothesis. This is therapy jargon that means ‘we can understand the reason behind an action’. Once we know why we can replace the behavior with something more appropriate, or reduce the stimuli causing the issue.
Behavior isn’t random, it’s used to receive a need, or avoid/escape something painful. With Autism the painful thing a child could be avoiding can be surprising as many things stimulate them in ways stimuli usually wouldn’t. For example, a child could be tantrumming every time they start to walk into a store because of the bright lights. Measurements and keen observation catch these things quickly so your child can work towards a realistic goal.
Measuring, graphs, numbers and data are just another tool in the therapist’s box to steer, guide and teach your child how to navigate the world.