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What does an ABA Analyst do for autistic children?

An ABA therapist refers to a person who works in a specialized area of therapy known as applied behavior analysis, which is a specific subdivision of behavioral science. Generally, a person who holds the title of an ABA therapist possesses a bachelor’s degree or higher in ABA, psychology or another similar subject. An individual who works in this field can expect to work with children who have been diagnosed with autism; however, training pertaining to autism is necessary and can be achieved through earning an M.s.Ed. in Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism. When an individual works with autistic children, he or she has a vital role in assisting autistic individuals with basic life skills and to ultimately guide these individuals to leading happy, productive lives. Through this scientific approach, a therapist has the ability to monitor and assess, in order to gain a better understanding of the person and their correlation with their environment. This approach is customized to the patient and provides an everlasting foundation for their lives. The improvements that result from ABA help an autistic person to continuously learn from their surroundings and in general. The Lovaas Method is the most researched method of this form of treatment. It also shows to be the most effective. During the first session with an ABA a therapist who uses the Lovaas Method, the therapist will use a technique referred to as "discrete trials." This term describes a method of having the patient complete a task asked of him or her. In return, the therapist will give the patient a "treat" or "reinforcement" for successfully completing the task. The tasks asked of the patient are new skills, rather than ones that he or she has already acquired. Each activity is not just beneficial for the autistic individually to learn; they are stepping stones to a larger concept of learning. Additionally, the process of ABA includes a portion that is specifically tailored toward the person’s needs. Throughout this portion of the therapy, the therapist and the patient work on tackling new skills using smaller steps that result in the patient learning the larger, main idea. When younger children (toddlers) undergo ABA therapy, their form of discrete trials is more like playing; however, they learn valuable lessons and skills that a non-autistic child may already have learned. Typically, the younger a child is, the more he or she will take lead the therapy. In play-based therapy, a child learns to communicate effectively to ask for toys and other items. In addition, the child learns how to develop relationships, develop new skills and learn how to react more appropriately. An ABA therapist teaches older children in the same manner, but these children learn in a more structured manner that is led by the instructor. The skills taught to older children include inclusion at school, building a relationship with family, independent leisure time and peer interaction. Each day as an applied behavior analysis therapist is a rewarding one. Most commonly, a therapist goes to the person with autism’s house or in a classroom setting. This is when he or she analyzes the person in his or her own surroundings. The familiarity makes it easier for the patient to learn. A typical day varies based upon the patient’s age. For instance, the younger learners do not have as structured of a day as an older learner. When a therapist has a child between the ages of three to five, the instructor will usually work with that child for five to eight hours each day, five to seven days per week. The first few weeks are initially the same for this age bracket as for younger students; however, a student in this age group will learn different skills. The number of patients also changes how an average schedule of an ABA therapist works. Younger children start off with about 10 to 15 hours each week. The time and intensity gradually increase until the instructor and the child are spending about 35 to 40 hours together each week. Children between the ages of three and five need those 35 to 40 hours of scheduled time to learn. When an ABA therapist is working, he or she will have a certain routine to follow with a patient. While he or she is instructing, the day will be broken down into sessions, which typically last about two to four hours. Within that time, the child and the instructor work on a particular task for about two to five minutes, followed by a one to two minute break. Every one to two hours, the child has a 10 to 20 minute break for snack time, playtime or time to go outside. Both types of breaks allow an instructor to take time away from teaching and play with the child. Although playing with children might seem like an easy task, an ABA analyst plays such a crucial role in helping autistic children learn all the skills necessary to live. This instructor affects every aspect of the child’s life from how to build relationships to how to play alone. The learning an autistic child does in the classroom without an ABA analyst also has the potential to improve.