Applied Behaviour Analysis and Autism: Building a Future Together

Applied Behaviour Analysis and Autism: Building a Future Together

Applied Behaviour Analysis and Autism: Building a Future Together

Applied Behaviour Analysis and Autism: Building a Future Together

Synopsis

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is the applied branch of the science of behaviour analysis. As with other sciences it has developed special techniques for observing natural phenomena; in this instance, behaviour. From these observations and associated investigative techniques, ABA has developed new ways to explain behaviour. These explanations have implications for every aspect of human behaviour. For children with autism, ABA has brought new scientific standards for addressing the whole gamut of problems that define this condition, including strategies for enhancing social and communication skills.

Excerpt

Imagine the following hypothetical scenario: you have a beloved young child whose health just does not seem to be normal. You observe that she has persistent fevers, is lethargic and tired much of the time, and has aching joints and bones. You express concerns about your child's health to your family physician, who tells you that it's just a phase that she will grow out of, or not to worry because girls tend to be less active than boys. So you wait a while, and you watch your child closely, and the symptoms don't go away; in fact, they seem to worsen. Still the physician does not think your concerns are sufficient to warrant the trouble and expense of a bunch of tests, so he recommends giving the child aspirin for the fever and aches, and a vitamin to boost her energy level. But your child does not get better, and your anxiety mounts. You begin to compare notes with parents of other children near the same age as your daughter, and do some reading on childhood illnesses. From the information you obtain, it seems that the symptoms you have observed in your child could signal any of several conditions, including childhood cancer, so you decide to take her to a professional who specializes in diagnosing cancer in young children. To your dismay, you learn that there are not very many of those professionals around, so you have to wait a long time for an appointment. Finally the evaluation is done, and your daughter is given a diagnosis that stuns and chills you: acute lymphocytic leukaemia (ALL).

Now, imagine further that the diagnostician – who has not actually treated any children with ALL – tells you that although the cause of ALL is unknown and there is little hope that your child's health will be restored, there are many different treatments or therapies that can help those with ALL. She refers you to your country's national association for ALL for further information, and suggests that you and your spouse join a support group for parents of children with ALL. With a mixture of fear and hope, you immediately contact the national association, which provides you with some descriptions of ALL that you find quite confusing and frightening, and a long list of treatments or therapies for ALL that other parents and some professionals . . .

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