Banner titled NowABA, subtitled, How does NowWhat do ABA differently? Picture of two happy children.
What:  What is ABA?

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is a type of therapy that is sometimes recommended for children with Autism or various other diagnoses, particularly those who need additional support to develop skills, or who are at risk of harming themselves or the people around them. It’s an evidence-based, data-driven method of modifying behaviour through consistent implementation of strategies such as repeated reinforcement. Sessions usually take place for several hours at a time, several days a week, in-home, clinic, or in the community. Behaviour Analysts, governed by the Ontario College of Psychologists and Behaviour Analysts, use observation and data gathering to:

  • Assess each child or teen’s individual strengths and needs
  • Develop personalized support plans
  • Work towards decreasing an unhelpful behaviour (such as hitting, biting, or head-banging)
  • Develop a new skill (such as working through each step required to shower or toilet independently)

So What: Why is ABA important (and so controversial)?

ABA is a therapeutic tool. Like any tool, it can be used constructively to create something helpful, or it can be applied poorly or to the wrong situation and end up doing more damage than good. There are loud opinions on both sides of the argument for and against this approach. Many families have seen huge gains in their child’s independence and abilities thanks to intensive ABA delivered by thoughtful practitioners. However, for a lot of self-advocates in the adult Autistic community, ABA can be viewed as a stressful, compliance-driven method of stamping out Autistic traits and individual self-expression. Some anti-ABA proponents feel that the ABA approach is designed to make life easier for the neurotypical people around the child by emphasizing compliance and control, as opposed to enriching the life of the child and allowing them to find success in their own context.

Now What: How do we approach ABA differently?

At NowWhat, we view ABA as one potentially useful tool in a great big therapeutic toolkit, to be applied with discernment, respect, and big-picture perspective. Our Behaviour Analyst views ABA as a framework to apply, as opposed to a set of rigid rules or procedures to follow. Our whole reason for existing is to champion a joyful, holistic approach to social, emotional and mental health support. We see people as whole beings, operating inside of whole families – not as a set of problem behaviours that need to be fixed. That means our Behaviour Analysts and Behaviour Therapy team work in tight collaboration with our Speech and Language, Occupational Therapy, and Social Work teams on individualized wraparound Care Plans for each family in our intensive therapeutic day program, PowerUp (covered by OAP Core Funding).

ABA at NowWhat is Non judgemental, Joyful and Playful, Active and Empowering, Family Focused.

Whose goal is it anyway?

We see no value in preventing a person from stimming or changing the pentameter of their speech to match a neurotypical norm to make the people around them more comfortable. There are so many ways to be human, and meaningful living looks different for every person. Our goal is to help families living with Autism, ADHD, or other diagnoses develop strategies to become more effective in their daily lives so they can be happy and healthy in their own unique context. When we use ABA alongside all the other components in our multidisciplinary approach, our goal is to help children:

  • Keep themselves and the people around them safe
  • Gain the skills they need to keep their bodies healthy and well
  • Work towards as much autonomy and independence as possible in their specific context
  • Build skills that foster positive long-term relationships
  • Find enrichment and develop healthy methods of self-expression
  • Experience joy and meaning in their lives

Talk to us if you would like to book an intake conversation about working with our Behaviour Therapy team.