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ABA Therapy and School: Support Not a Replacement

ABA Therapy and School: Support Not a Replacement

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Many families wonder if ABA therapy can replace a child or teenager’s formal education, especially those affected by autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Caregivers should work to understand the relationship between ABA therapy and school to optimize the best outcomes for their loved ones.
Ultimately, ABA therapy goes beyond weekly sessions and aims to promote play and independence, which can lead to better outcomes in the classroom for individuals with ASD. However, ABA therapy does not and cannot replace a student’s formal academic education.
Research highlights that children who receive ABA care over time for ASD symptom management report more positive school experiences than those who do not. However, it is also essential to note that ABA focuses on shaping behavior and fostering core daily skills in the context of ASD functioning. 
For many, ABA therapy makes attending school more manageable, resulting in less problematic behavior that can be detrimental or disruptive to their or their peers’ learning.
In this blog by ABA Centers of Florida, we will explain the benefits of ABA therapy and how it complements better school experiences. Furthermore, we explore potential legislative impacts regarding ABA therapy and schools for children and teens with ASD nationwide. 
So, please keep reading to learn more about the relationship between ABA therapy and education and how utilizing them together can improve your child’s educational experiences in the long term.
Visit us here to learn more about ABA care with ABA Centers of Florida, our ABA clinic, and autism diagnostic services. Click here to read our other blogs about ABA and autism. 

The Complementary Relationship Between ABA Therapy and School

According to vast research, ABA therapy is highly effective in helping individuals with autism manage the limiting symptoms they may face while highlighting their strengths. This model focuses on teaching specific life skills, including communication and social interaction, through positive reinforcement schedules and other playful strategies. 
Other core skills taught in ABA that are essential to a classroom’s success include following instructions and coping with strong emotions. 
ABA providers like Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) can apply ABA within a clinical setting, at home, or in other places where the child needs support, making it ideal for supporting various experiences.
However, for a few reasons, many districts do not allow ABA personnel into schools. Districts blame these policies on privacy and safety concerns. However, most ABA providers receive more vetting and training than other regular school personnel, mitigating this concern.
In cases where the ABA client’s school districts will allow an ABA provider to support ASD students, clients get the extra help they need to attend classroom assignments, which also reduces the strain on educators. Moreover, ABA therapy also helps redirect problem behaviors by identifying triggers and proactively addressing them to avoid potential classroom chaos. 

ABA Therapy and ASD Student IEPs

According to Autism Speaks, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is crafted collaboratively by educational professionals to benefit the student’s learning journey. It outlines the child’s strengths and areas requiring support in the context of their academic strategy and functioning. 
Additionally, an IEP may also include accommodations and modifications to assist the student in understanding the curriculum, such as extended time on tests or providing a quiet workspace. These accommodations help ensure that the neurodivergent student can learn and explore their knowledge in a way that works best for them, making IEPs essential. 
For many with autism, behavioral support is necessary for classroom success and may require assistive tools. ABA therapy can be incorporated into an IEP as part of the behavioral support plan, targeting behaviors specific to the student and their educational goals.

Understanding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Or IDEA

According to Autism Now, under IDEA or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, districts must offer suitable free public education to children with specific requirements. However, in many cases, public schools decline ABA support, which is unfortunate. 
A recent victory for children with diverse needs occurred when a deaf student seeking proper educational accommodations took legal action against their school. The Supreme Court’s decision highlighted the school’s failure to provide an education tailored to the student’s individual needs, leading to distress for the student.
This legal success can empower parents of ASD children to advocate for supportive ABA therapy within the school setting. 


More About Why School Districts Don’t Always Accommodate ABA Personnel

While recognizing the benefits of ABA therapy, many districts encourage ABA practitioners to conduct ABA sessions in the client’s home outside of classroom hours. Such policies can pose challenges for children and teenagers on the autism spectrum in meeting their recommended ABA therapy hours, affecting their overall progress and behavioral development.
Given the significant time children spend in school, access to ABA therapy can prevent them from being unfairly labeled as “disruptive” or “problematic.” Highlighting the need for ABA in school is crucial in providing these exceptional students with the tailored ABA support they need to enhance their development and keep up with peers. 

5 Strategies for Better Experiences with ABA Therapy and School

Better school days on the spectrum often begin with robust ABA strategies. Many of the following tips are helpful to parents in optimizing their neurodivergent child’s results in ABA therapy and school. 

1. Use Positive Reinforcement Whenever You Can

Positive reinforcement is a vital component of ABA therapy and can be highly effective in promoting better classroom behaviors. Praising and rewarding desirable behaviors in ASD children can help motivate them to continue learning or attending to an assignment.
Over time, this helps lead to better participation and ASD learning.

2. Use Visual Aids

Many ABA providers and ASD caregivers find visual aids beneficial, as ASD children sometimes need more help understanding schoolroom concepts and directions. 


3. Encourage Social Interaction

ABA therapy focuses on teaching social skills, but it’s vital to practice socializing in other environments, too.

4. Utilize Technology and Apps If Appropriate

Technology and mobile apps can be valuable tools for helping children with ASD have better learning experiences. These tools can help foster more seamless and enjoyable skill practice. Furthermore, these devices or apps can be great motivational tools in the context of positive reinforcement for kids who love tech. Finally, they can also improve communication in many cases!


5. Communicate with Teachers and ABA Providers

Communication between ABA therapists, teachers, and caregivers is vital to ensuring consistency in strategies and interventions that support better classroom outcomes. These collaborations can create the best results with ABA therapy and school.
By communicating with teachers and ABA providers, everyone can help identify the students’ potential problem areas for improvement and take a unified approach to the child’s overall development.

ABA Helps Establish More Classroom Outcomes in Context with ASD

Ultimately, ABA therapy clearly improves the educational experience for many children and teenagers with ASD, their peers, and educators. It also helps teachers focus on teaching and less on managing behavior related to ASD. Because ABA emphasizes teaching core life skills while reducing problem behaviors, it is a solid ally to traditional education but never a replacement. 
With legislative efforts and effective strategies in place, we hope to see ABA therapy significantly advance in bridging the gap between school and successful learning experiences for youth with autism through more collaboration and comprehensive approaches. 
Fortunately, with the proper support and resources, every child with ASD can have a more successful school experience and achieve their long-term goals. So, let’s all continue working towards improving access to quality ABA therapy for those with ASD while promoting more understanding of educational environments whenever necessary.


School Support with ABA Centers of Florida

At ABA Centers of Florida, we provide high-quality ABA therapy and ASD diagnostic services to children and teenagers with ASD. Our team of experienced ABA providers works closely with schools whenever possible.
We offer a collaborative approach to ABA that remains individual to each young client we serve. We believe in respecting classroom dynamics while matter while working towards what matters most to our clients. 
Contact us here or call us at (772) 773-1975 to explore how ABA Centers of Florida supports the autism community in regions of Florida, including: 
  • Jensen Beach
  • Tampa
  • Miramar
  • Davenport
  • Boca Raton
  • Doral
  • Melbourne
  • Kissimmee
  • Orlando
  • Bradenton
Please connect with us. Together, we can create a more illuminating future for children with autism in academia and beyond!

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