What is Autism?
From Autism Speaks:
"Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. We now know that there is not one autism but many types, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences.
The term “spectrum” reflects the wide variation in challenges and strengths possessed by each person with autism.
Autism’s most-obvious signs tend to appear between 2 and 3 years of age. In some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Some developmental delays associated with autism can be identified and addressed even earlier. Autism Speaks urges parents with concerns to seek evaluation without delay, as early intervention can improve outcomes."
See Autism Speaks' website for more information, including first signs and screening tools.
"When you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism." - Dr. Stephen Shore
Some facts about autism:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates autism’s prevalence as 1 in 68 children in the United States. This includes 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls. In Africa, prevalence studies have not yet been conducted.
Around one third of people with autism remain nonverbal.
Around one third of people with autism have an intellectual disability.
Certain medical and mental health issues frequently accompany autism. They include gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures, sensory processing issues, sleep disturbances, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and phobias.
Learn the signs and symptoms: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/signs.html
What is ABA?
From Autism Speaks:
"Behavior analysis is a scientifically validated approach to understanding behavior and how it is affected by the environment. In this context, “behavior" refers to actions and skills. "Environment" includes any influence – physical or social – that might change or be changed by one's behavior.
What is ABA?
Behavior analysis focuses on the principles that explain how learning takes place. Positive reinforcement is one such principle. When a behavior is followed by some sort of reward, the behavior is more likely to be repeated. Through decades of research, the field of behavior analysis has developed many techniques for increasing useful behaviors and reducing those that may cause harm or interfere with learning.
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the use of these techniques and principles to bring about meaningful and positive change in behavior.
As mentioned, behavior analysts began working with young children with autism and related disorders in the 1960s. Early techniques often involved adults directing most of the instruction. Some allowed the child to take the lead. Since that time, a wide variety of ABA techniques have been developed for building useful skills in learners with autism – from toddlers through adulthood.
These 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. Some ABA therapy sessions involve one-on-one interaction between the behavior analyst and the participant. Group instruction can likewise prove useful.
How does ABA Benefit Those with Autism?
Today, ABA is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for autism. In particular, ABA principles and techniques can foster basic skills such as looking, listening and imitating, as well as complex skills such as reading, conversing and understanding another person’s perspective.
What Does Research Tell Us About ABA and Autism?
A number of studies have demonstrated that ABA techniques can produce improvements in communication, social relationships, play, self care, school and employment. These studies involved age groups ranging from preschoolers to adults. Results for all age groups showed that ABA increased participation in family and community activities.
A number of peer-reviewed studies have examined the potential benefits of combining multiple ABA techniques into comprehensive, individualized and intensive early intervention programs for children with autism. "Comprehensive" refers to interventions that address a full range of life skills, from communication and sociability to self-care and readiness for school. "Early intervention" refers to programs designed to begin before age 4. "Intensive" refers to programs that total 25 to 40 hours per week for 1 to 3 years.
These programs allow children to learn and practice skills in both structured and unstructured situations. The “intensity” of these programs may be particularly important to replicate the thousands of interactions that typical toddlers experience each day while interacting with their parents and peers.
Such studies have demonstrated that many children with autism experience significant improvements in learning, reasoning, communication and adaptability when they participate in high-quality ABA programs. Some preschoolers who participate in early intensive ABA for two or more years acquire sufficient skills to participate in regular classrooms with little or no additional support. Other children learn many important skills, but still need additional educational support to succeed in a classroom."
For more information, visit the Autism Speaks ABA web page.
Be Aware of Fad and Misleading Treatments:
Projects on Autism in Senegal
The Senegal Autism Network currently provides parent support and participates in awareness activities.
Email us at dakarabagroup.gmail.com for contacts.
CHIP International: http://www.chipinternationalusa.org/projects-1.html
Fann Hospital, Keur Khaleyi child psychiatry center: news link
Diamniado child psychiatry center: contact
Thiaroye psychiatric center: contact