Five Applied Behavioral Analysis Benefits for Adopted Children

  • Positive Reinforcement
  • Intimate and Intensive Approach
  • Building Social Skills
  • Education Preparation
  • Family Cooperation

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a psychological therapy technique that most people associate with children who struggle with autism. This is because it is one of the most successful treatments for autism. However, many different kinds of children also benefit greatly from ABA. For example, it provides the particular support needed by most adopted children. They especially benefit from ABA in these five ways.

1. Positive Reinforcement

One of the main tenets of ABA is positive reinforcement. This refers to any system which rewards children for positive behaviors as a primary teaching technique, reserving punishment for only the most extreme behaviors. It is especially important to avoid punishment as much as possible with adopted children. They are already struggling with feelings of abandonment, neglect, and undesirability, which they often interpret as being punished and not having any idea what they did to deserve it. Positive reinforcement helps them feel cared for and appreciated.

2. Intimate and Intensive Approach

ABA consists of one therapist per child and family, frequent sessions, long-term treatment, and therapy in the context of everyday activities. This helps the child feel as though he is the only priority for the therapist during their time together. It builds trust that can be lost during the long periods between more traditional forms of therapy. Adopted children have often been abused and passed around from home to home. They respond very well to the stability and familiarity of ABA. They are often one of many former foster children, which makes them feel like a low priority, especially if the foster or adoptive family has biological children.

3. Building Social Skills

Another main tenet of ABA is learning and practicing positive social skills. This covers everything from learning emotional regulation and proper expression of feelings, to sharing, to working with others to accomplish goals. Not having had a structured and stable social life, adopted children often struggle with these skills and benefit greatly from the ABA training. The Center for Adoption Medicine offers some great insight into the unique social struggles adopted children face.

4. Education Preparation

Adopted children often struggle at school. Many have been transferred to many different schools or missed a great deal of school days due to their circumstances. This sets them behind in academic performance, as well as in terms of learning how to adapt to a school day structure and in relationships with school authority figures. ABA training incorporates work and support in all of these areas. Most ABA therapists accompany children to school until this is no longer needed, and assist them with homework and studying.

5. Family Cooperation

Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of ABA is that it involves the entire family. This provides opportunities for family bonding, which is so crucial in adoptive families. It provides the sense that the entire family is the client, rather than singling out the adopted child (something they have experiences quite enough of). It allows the family learn to provide the help and support their child needs, easing the eventual transition out of therapy.

Applied Behavioral Analysis is one of the best psychological therapy methods for adopted children and their families. It builds trust and confidence. It addresses every aspect and environment of the child’s life. Every adoptive family should consider making ABA part of their experience.