Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a group of complex neurodevelopment disorders characterized by repetitive and characteristic patterns of behavior and difficulties with social communication and interaction. The symptoms are present from early childhood and affect daily functioning. The term “spectrum” refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability in functioning that can occur in people with ASD. Some children and adults with ASD are fully able to perform all activities of daily living while others require substantial support to perform basic activities. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5, published in 2013) includes Asperger syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorders not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) as part of ASD rather than as separate disorders. A diagnosis of ASD includes an assessment of intellectual disability and language impairment.
ASD occurs in every racial and ethnic group, and across all socioeconomic levels. However, boys are significantly more likely to develop ASD than girls. The latest analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 68 children have ASD.
Applied Behavior Analysis
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a scientific discipline among the helping professions that focuses on the analysis, design, implementation, and evaluation of social and other environmental modifications to produce meaningful changes in human behavior. ABA includes the use of direct observation, measurement, and functional analysis of the relations between environment and behavior.
ABA is based on the fact that an individual’s behavior is determined by past and current environmental events in conjunction with organic variables such as their genetic endowment and physiological variables. Thus, when applied to autism spectrum disorder ASD, ABA focuses on treating the problems of the disorder by altering the individual’s social and learning environments.
The current guidelines are specific to ABA as a behavioral health treatment of ASD. Nevertheless, ABA has also been demonstrated as effective for treating the symptoms of a variety of conditions, including severe destructive behavior, substance abuse, dementia, pediatric feeding disorders, and traumatic brain injury, among others.
The successful remediation of core deficits of autism spectrum disorder ASD, and the development or restoration of abilities, documented in hundreds of peer-reviewed studies published over the past 50 years, has made ABA the standard of care for the treatment of ASD.
Useful links About ASD and ABA treatment.