How Autism Therapy Services Can Change Your Child's Life (and Yours Too!)

Learn about the significant benefits that autism therapy services offers to both children and their caregivers.

Parenting a child with autism can feel like stepping into a vast, uncharted territory with no compass or map. As a parent, you want nothing more than to equip your child with all they need to thrive, and the wellbeing of the rest of your family (including yourself) are a concern too. Where do you begin?

Autism therapy services could be the answer you’ve been looking for. Autism therapy, including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, is designed to help children on the autism spectrum or with other behavioral challenges develop essential skills, improve their quality of life, and reach their full potential.

But the benefits don’t stop there. Engaging in this transformative journey can bring about profound changes in your own life as a parent. As you gain knowledge and training, you will gain a deeper understanding of your child and be equipped with strategies to support them effectively. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the world of autism therapy services and how they can ultimately change your child’s life—and yours too!

Learn more about ABA therapy and Sonoran Learning & Behavioral Services on our FAQ page.

Understanding the Impact: How Autism Affects a Child's Life

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental condition that involves persistent challenges in social interaction, speech and nonverbal communication, and restricted/repetitive behaviors. The effects of autism and the severity of symptoms can vary widely among individuals, but it undoubtedly shapes a child’s life in significant ways. Here are some common challenges autism can bring to a child’s life:

Social Challenges

Children with autism often find social interactions challenging. They may struggle to make eye contact, understand body language, or interpret social cues that come naturally to other children. This can make it difficult for them to form and maintain relationships with peers, leading to feelings of isolation.

Communication Difficulties

Many children with autism have difficulty with speech and non-verbal communication. Some might not speak at all, while others may have a large vocabulary but struggle to engage in a two-way conversation. These communication difficulties can create barriers to expressing their needs and thoughts.

Sensory Sensitivities

Autism often affects how children perceive and process sensory information. They may be overly sensitive to certain sounds, lights, or textures, leading to sensory overload and distress. On the other hand, some children might seek out certain sensory stimuli.

Repetitive Behaviors

Children with autism often exhibit repetitive behaviors, such as hand-flapping, rocking, or obsessively arranging objects. They may also develop specific routines and become upset if these routines are disrupted.

Learning Abilities

While some children with autism may have cognitive impairments, others may have average or above-average intelligence. Some might excel in particular areas, such as math, art, or music. However, traditional educational settings can sometimes be challenging due to social and communication difficulties.

Emotional Impact

The challenges associated with autism can lead to frustration, anxiety, and emotional distress in children. They may have difficulty understanding and managing their emotions, leading to sudden emotional outbursts.

The Beauty of Autism Disability Benefits

While autism brings challenges, it can also bring a lot of beauty to your child’s and family’s life. There are many avenues of support through autism disability benefits programs. These benefits can significantly enhance the quality of life for individuals with autism and their families, providing much-needed financial assistance and access to vital services to make your life easier.

Financial Support

Raising a child with autism can bring financial strain due to the costs of therapy, special education, and sometimes specialized care. Autism disability benefits provide financial relief that can help families afford these essential services. This support can make a world of difference, allowing parents to access the best possible care for their child without the burden of overwhelming costs.

Access to Services

Autism disability benefits often provide more than just financial support. They can grant access to a range of services like speech and occupational therapy, mental health services, and special education programs.

Empowering Independence

As children grow, disability benefits can empower independence. They may provide vocational training, job placement services, and support for independent living as children enter adulthood. This can open doors to meaningful employment and the ability to live a fulfilling, self-reliant life.

Support for Families

Autism doesn’t just affect the individual diagnosed—it impacts the entire family. Some autism disability benefits offer respite services, giving family members a temporary rest from caregiving duties. This can be crucial for maintaining the overall wellbeing of the family and ensuring that they can continue to provide the best care for their child.

The beauty of autism disability benefits lies in the lifeline they provide for individuals with autism and their families. They acknowledge the unique challenges faced by these families and provide tangible, practical support so that your child can have access to the very best resources, like access to ABA therapy.

What is ABA Therapy?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is based on the science of learning and behavior often used in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other behavioral disorders. ABA therapy applies our understanding of how behavior works to real situations. The goal is to increase helpful behaviors and decrease behaviors that are harmful or affect learning. It can help with improving communication skills, attention, focus, social skills, memory, and academics.

ABA therapy involves multiple techniques for understanding and changing behavior, including:

  1. Discrete Trial Training (DTT): A method of teaching in simplified and structured steps. Instead of teaching an entire skill at once, the skill is broken down and built up using reinforcements.
  2. Incidental Teaching: This focuses on teaching skills in naturally occurring situations.
  3. Pivotal Response Training (PRT): A training technique that targets pivotal areas of a child’s development instead of working on one specific behavior.
  4. Verbal Behavior Interventions (VBI): A type of ABA that focuses on teaching verbal skills.

ABA therapy can take place in structured situations like classrooms or in everyday situations such as family dinnertime or the neighborhood playground. By exposing children to different situations in therapy, the goal is for the skills they learn to be generalized throughout all parts of their life.

However, ABA therapy is not one-size-fits-all, so each program should be tailored to the individual’s needs and regularly reviewed to ensure it continues to support the individual’s growth and development. A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) will help determine the correct treatment plan for each child.

Is ABA Therapy Harmful or Beneficial for Children with Autism?

You might be wondering, “Is ABA therapy really worth it for my child? Will it help or hurt their development?” ABA therapy is a common treatment for children with autism, but it’s helpful to know the pros and cons before taking the plunge with this type of therapy.

The Benefits of ABA Therapy

ABA therapy has proven itself beneficial for many children with autism over the years. The therapy’s primary goal is to improve specific behaviors like social skills, communication, reading, and academics while decreasing problem behaviors. Many studies have shown that ABA can significantly improve these behaviors, especially when started early and performed intensively.

ABA therapy’s structured approach can provide predictability and routine, which many children with autism find comforting. It can also be tailored to each child’s unique needs and goals, making it a flexible therapy option.

The Criticisms of ABA Therapy

Despite its benefits, ABA therapy has also faced criticism. Some argue that the therapy is too focused on changing behaviors to fit societal norms rather than teaching skills that are meaningful to the individual. Others express concern that ABA might be stressful for children because it often involves many hours of intensive one-on-one therapy.

There have also been concerns about the use of aversive techniques in ABA therapy. While these methods are no longer widely used, their history has contributed to some negative views of ABA.

Like any therapy, the effectiveness of ABA can vary greatly from child to child. It’s crucial to work with knowledgeable professionals like a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who use evidence-based practices and prioritize the child’s well-being above all. A good ABA program should be flexible, respectful, and focused on improving the quality of life for the child and their family.

Ultimately, whether ABA therapy is harmful or beneficial can depend on how it’s practiced and the individual child’s response to it. Parents should explore all available options and choose the therapies and clinicians that can best meet their child’s needs.

ABA Therapy Techniques That Get Results

Because ABA therapy should be tailored to the needs of each child, therapy techniques that work with one child may not work with another. However, there are many ABA techniques that get results and, in general, help many children improve their skills in crucial areas.

Here are some of the most effective ABA therapy techniques that have been shown to produce positive results:

1. Discrete Trial Training (DTT)

DTT is a structured ABA technique that breaks down skills into small, teachable parts. Each trial or teaching opportunity has a clear beginning, middle, and end. The individual’s correct responses are rewarded to reinforce the behavior. DTT is effective in teaching new skills and behaviors [1].

2. Incidental Teaching

Incidental teaching involves creating opportunities within natural settings to encourage individuals to use certain skills. For example, if a child wants a toy on a high shelf, the therapist might prompt them to ask for help. This method helps generalize learned behaviors to real-life scenarios.

3. Pivotal Response Training (PRT)

PRT targets “pivotal” areas of a child’s development such as motivation, response to multiple cues, self-management, and social initiations. Improvements in these areas can lead to widespread positive changes in other non targeted behaviors [2].

4. Verbal Behavior Intervention (VBI)

VBI focuses on encouraging the child to communicate and express their needs effectively. For example, instead of just labeling an item, the child learns to request the item, express likes or dislikes, or respond to others’ requests.

5. Natural Environment Training (NET)

NET involves teaching in a natural environment rather than a clinical one. The goal is to make learning more fun and engaging by incorporating it into the child’s regular activities. This can increase the likelihood of the child using the learned skills outside of therapy sessions.

6. Task Analysis

Task analysis breaks down complex skills into smaller, manageable steps. Each step is taught individually, and then linked together to complete the whole task. This technique can be beneficial for teaching self-help skills like brushing teeth or getting dressed.


  1. Smith, T. (2001). Discrete trial training in the treatment of autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 16(2), 86-92.
  2. Koegel, R.L., Koegel, L.K., Harrower, J.K., Carter, C.M. (1999). Pivotal response intervention I: Overview of approach. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 24(3), 174-185.

How to Help Your Child With Autism at Home

We’ve talked a lot about ABA therapy which is done under the direction of a licensed clinician. But what happens when your child is out of the clinic and back at home? How do you help them continue to use the skills they’ve been learning in your daily life together?

As parents or caregivers, here are ways you can support your child’s development at home:

1. Create a Structured Environment

Children with autism often thrive in structured environments. Establishing consistent routines for meals, playtime, and bedtime can provide a sense of security and predictability.

2. Use Visual Aids

Visual aids such as charts, calendars, or color-coded systems can be helpful for children with autism. They can help your child understand what to expect and provide reminders for tasks like brushing teeth or getting dressed.

3. Encourage Communication

Encourage your child to express their feelings and needs. If verbal communication is challenging, consider alternative methods like picture cards, sign language, or digital communication apps.

4. Provide Sensory Activities

Many children with autism have heightened sensitivity to sensory experiences. Providing sensory activities tailored to your child’s preferences can be calming and enjoyable. This could include playing with squishy toys, listening to soothing music, or spending time in a swing.

5. Practice Social Skills

Help your child practice social skills by role-playing different scenarios at home. This could involve taking turns, sharing toys, or practicing greetings.

6. Stay Informed and Seek Support

Stay updated with the latest research and strategies for supporting children with autism. Connect with other families, join support groups, or seek advice from professional therapists and clinicians.

At Sonoran Learning & Behavioral Services, we offer caregiver training with all of our therapy services so that skills can be translated from the clinic to the home with ease. And if you are looking for specific parent coaching from a licensed Board Certified Behavior Analyst, we also offer virtual coaching through Black Diamond Behavior Consulting.

Transform Your Life as a Parent with Autism Therapy Services

Being a parent can be challenging, especially when raising a child with autism. But just as parenting requires patience for your child, it requires plenty of patience for yourself as you learn new skills, too!

Rather than figure it out on your own, autism therapy services can truly transform your life and improve how you support and show up for your child. The goal of autism therapy is to increase empathy, understanding, and ease in all areas of life for both children with autism and for their caregivers.

With this therapy, you’ll gain a wealth of resources, support, and strategies to help you as you help your child thrive. Read through our FAQs and the Services that we offer to learn more about ABA therapy, what therapy looks like at Sonoran LBS, and how to get started if you’re interested in autism therapy for your child!

We are excited to help both you and your child live happy, fulfilled lives together.

Frequently Asked Questions

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental condition that involves persistent challenges in social interaction, speech and nonverbal communication, and restricted/repetitive behaviors. The effects of autism and the severity of symptoms can vary widely among individuals, but it undoubtedly shapes a child’s life in significant ways.

ABA therapy is a type of therapy that improves social skills, communication, reading, and academics as well as adaptive learning skills, such as fine motor dexterity, hygiene, grooming, domestic capabilities, punctuality, and job competence. It’s often used in the treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), but can be applied to anyone with behavioral issues. ABA techniques can be used in structured situations such as a classroom lesson as well as in everyday situations such as family dinnertime or the neighborhood playground. The goal is to increase behaviors that are helpful and decrease behaviors that are harmful or affect learning.

Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) are Master’s level clinicians who are trained in Applied Behavior Analysis. BCBAs conduct skills assessments and functional behavior assessments to determine the needs of an individual. They also create skill acquisition programming and behavior intervention plans if necessary for treatment. Data collection and visual analysis is an important component of one’s responsibility as a Behavior Analyst, as decisions are driven by the data. Data is what assists a Behavior Analyst in making decisions regarding treatment on whether to continue or revise an intervention. Lastly, BCBAs supervise Registered Behavior Technicians and an individual’s progress throughout treatment.


Here are some ways ABA therapy can support your child:

  1. Improved Communication Skills: Help your child understand and use language more effectively, which can improve their ability to express their needs and reduce frustration.

  2. Social Skills Development: Through role-play and guided interaction, ABA therapy can enhance your child’s social skills, helping them interact more effectively with peers and adults.

  3. Behavioral Changes: ABA therapy can reduce harmful or disruptive behaviors by encouraging positive behavior and teaching your child how to control impulses. It can also help your child adjust to changes in routine or environment.

  4. Academic Progress: ABA therapy can aid in academic progress by teaching children skills like focusing, following instructions, and completing tasks.

  5. Independence: By teaching self-care skills such as dressing, grooming, and feeding, ABA therapy can enable your child to be more independent.

  6. Parent Training: ABA therapy is not just for the child; it also equips parents with strategies and techniques to continue therapy at home, reinforcing the learned behaviors.

Every child is unique, and the benefits they gain from ABA therapy can vary. Work with a qualified ABA therapist to create a personalized plan and address your child’s specific needs.

No two days in ABA look exactly alike. ABA therapy can take place in various settings, including the child’s home, a therapy center, or even a school, further adding to the variability of the daily routine. Here’s a general idea of what a typical day might look like:

  • Arrival and Transition: The day begins with the therapist greeting the child and transitioning them into the therapy environment.
  • Skill Building Activities: The bulk of the day is spent on various activities designed to build skills in areas like communication, social interaction, self-care, and academics.
  • Data Collection: Throughout the day, the therapist will collect data on the child’s behaviors and responses to different situations.
  • Breaks: Regular breaks are scheduled to allow the child to rest and process what they’ve learned.
  • Parent/Caregiver Training: Depending on the program, the day may include a session where the therapist provides training on techniques to use at home, or addressing any concerns.
  • Wrap-Up: The day ends with a wrap-up session where the child is transitioned back to their regular environment.

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