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ADHD behavioral therapy: How to use ABA therapy for ADHD

You might think of ABA as a therapy tool for kids on the autism spectrum (which it totally is!). But ABA therapy for ADHD is a proven resource, and one you may not have yet explored for your child or teen with ADHD.

Back up. What is ABA?

Let’s start at the beginning. ABA is essentially the science of motivation and learning. That’s it! During an ABA session, your child’s motivation will be accessed, in order to determine what skills they are missing that will allow them to access more positive social interaction and better learning, plus determine what things they are doing that currently create barriers for them. It’s important to remember that behavioral therapy is about more than feelings, which is why it tends to work so well for kids with ADHD.

It’s also important to know what ABA is NOT. It is not psychotherapy or play therapy. Behavioral therapy, or ABA, focuses on actions, not emotions. It can teach your child how to turn negative, disruptive energy into positive thoughts and actions. It’s not the same as ‘ADHD coaching’ or occupational therapy, though both may be a helpful addition to enabling success for your child with ADHD.

What ABA therapy for ADHD can do:

ABA therapy for ADHD can unlock a lot of doors for your child. It can help improve your child’s self-control and self-esteem. If you have a child or teen with ADHD, you already know the drill: they tend to have increased impulsivity, hyperactivity, and a tendency toward inattention.

 ADHD probably already colors how your child or teen engages with the world.  (Not to mention how the world responds back.)  All of us continually learn, or are reinforced, by the feedback we receive from the world, and for a person with ADHD, this feedback can result in destructive cycles that are hard to break. These learned behaviors of children with ADHD—as well as the learned responses of their parents—can create behavioral habits that won’t help the child later in life.

How ABA therapy helps with ADHD

ABA techniques can help condition alternative, more functional behaviors, ending the cycle of self-distructive (or classroom disruptive) behavior. ABA therapy can help instill:

  • Positive reinforcement for appropriate behaviors (while offering no reinforcement for negative behaviors, unless there is a safety issue)
  • Discrete trial training, which breaks down complex behaviors into more manageable elements, allowing kids to ‘see’ the sequence of their actions
  • Self-management training, which, of course, helps with the end goal of enabling kids and teens with ADHD to self-manage their own symptoms and provide a toolbox of skills for independent living (this can include self-praise and the management of problematic behaviors)

Like what you’re learning? Pin it for later!

Why ABA works for kids with ADHD: ABA therapy for ADHD kids.

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