Autism Information Resources
The AJ Foundation continually seeks to find new ways to inform the public about autism spectrum disorder treatment options, advocacy issues and support. As such, we hope you find the following helpful.
What is Autism?
Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a severely disabling neurological disorder that typically appears in children during the first three years of life. It is characterized by communication, social and cognitive disorders in varying degrees. On March 27, 2014, the CDC published “Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children 8 years old”. The study shows that the rate of autism has increased from 1 in 88 children born in 2000 to 1 in 68 children born in 2002. According to this report, the prevalence of autism in the state of Pennsylvania alone is 1 in 75 children born in 2001. Autism is the most common developmental disorder, yet it remains one of the most underfunded afflictions with respect to both research and services. Because this is a lifelong disability, individuals with autism can be institutionalized if they do not receive the appropriate intervention to help them become independent and productive members of society within their communities. But autism is TREATABLE.
What is Applied Behavior Analysis or ABA?
Behavioral Analysis is described as a scientifically validated approach to understanding behaviors and how they are affected by the environment. Since the 1960’s, therapists and teachers have been utilizing this teaching method, with great success, to help individuals with autism (and related disabilities) achieve their highest potential in varying stages of life. ABA programs focus on decreasing undesirable behavior as well as teaching appropriate functional skills through the use of positive reinforcement. A desired skill may be analyzed and divided into smaller parts. These parts would be taught to an individual slowly, using reinforcements, until the skill is learned. Parts of skills may also be learned separately and then chained together. ABA programs strive to integrate strategies for teaching new skills and managing behaviors considered problematic because skills and behaviors interact and influence each other. The effectiveness of instructional procedures based on ABA has been documented through years of research. This method of instruction is individualized thereby providing a highly structured format for each student with autism. Outcomes are assessed through on-going data collection and adjusted as needed based on such assessments. Research demonstrates that individuals with autism who receive intensive early intervention based on the principles of ABA experience significant improvements in learning, reasoning, communication and adaptability to family, home and community life along within the workplace. Some acquire skills that enable them to return to regular classrooms with little or no additional support. Generally, research has found that individuals who receive intensive ABA treatment make larger improvements in more skill areas than do individuals who participate in other interventions.