Join CafeMom Today! Autism Spectrum Disorder: Treatments: Applied Affectionate Behavior Analysis (AABA)

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Applied Affectionate Behavior Analysis (AABA)

Great resource for dads, How To Connect With An Autistic Child.

For fathers coming home from work and find it impossible to connect with their autistic child, it can typically be the straw that breaks the family's back. Now an autism expert and parent shares tips of how to develop affection in autistic children.

Where most children will greet Daddy with a hug or a smile, many autistic children aren’t capable of the normal affectionate interactions that keep a family intact. As Dad walks in, his son is busy lining up his toys or engrossed in the spinning wheels of an overturned toy truck. Dad calls his name over and over in hopes of those bright eyes and wide mouth to come running to him with open arms, but to no avail. He even gets down on his knees in a desperate attempt for some eye contact, but his son turns away and even pushes off his father's touch with disturbing grunts.

Emerson B. Donnell III lived that experience every day, decided to do something about it, and his research and experience has delivered results that no one could ever have thought possible. Specific strategies designed to elicit proper emotion have blossomed back into true affection. Today, Donnell’s son will greet him at the door with hugs, kisses and an engaging smile. The strategies to bring their world together has also helped his son's speech increase exponentially.

Donnell, author of Dads And Autism, Learn How To Stay In The Game from Altruist Publishing (www.dadsandautism.com) said that without the proper tools, developing a loving connection can be a monumental if not seemingly impossible task. But getting that toe hold is the seed towards healing not only the child, but the family as a whole.

“One of the greatest disappointments about children with autism is their inability to connect with other people,” Donnell said. “This is especially heartbreaking for the parent child relationship. Parents yearn to reach their child who is right in front of them, yet they have no idea how to go about it. Parents confronted with autism experience grief and loneliness at their inability to connect with their child and it can tear a marriage apart at frightening speed. As a matter of fact it's probably the greatest contributing factor to why dads leave and the widely accepted 80% divorce rate.”

Donnell’s approach combines strategies and tactics from a variety of proven sources, meshed with his own personal experiences. The result is a systematic program that enables fathers (and mothers) to bond and develop affection in their autistic child with specific tactics and strategies that can be exercised in the comfort of their homes.

“The new therapy that I’ve applied is called Applied Affectionate Behavior Analysis (AABA),” he said. “I have also coined the term Discrete Affectionate Trials (DATs). These are specific exercises designed to elicit and develop proper emotion and affection in autistic children.”

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3 comments:

ABA Training Center said...

That looks like a great book. I checked it out over at amazon and it got plenty of positive reviews. Thanks for the heads up. Our therapists like resources like these :)

Anonymous said...

The term autistic has been misused to describe persons with anything from cerebral allergies and schizophrenia to attention deficient disorder and post traumatic disorder. Sadly, few doctors and educators understand true cases of autism to make a correct diagnosis. So they go with the latest media driven flow. Pick and choose from a broad and ever expanding spectrum. Or worse, they guess. The hallmark traits of autism are: sensitivity to sounds, specific tastes in food/drink, strange body postures, repetitive behaviors, inability to control emotions or excitement, poor reasoning skills, needs routines, resists changes, sense of direction and memory better than other skills, thinking based on association, not reasoning, once distracted by olfactory, visual or auditory stimuli, they become preoccupied. This is markedly DIFFERENT than ADHD, in that ADHD presents as easily distracted by stimuli, BUT, the person bounces focus from one thing to another. ADHD people don’t stay hyper-focused or fixate on something. That is what you will see a truly autistic person do. Fixate. Appear to be in a world of their own. Not wanting to play or socialize with others. Not wanting to play or socialize with others is only a hallmark trait of autism when it ALSO involves, not willfully choosing to ignore or not play with others. A truly autistic person doesn’t choose to not play or socialize, it’s simply who they are-- not to play or socialize with others—is in itself the core of autism—within oneself. They may show signs of affection or social skills, but it will almost always be brief.


Autism research examines high functioning Autism (and Aspergers) but continues to ignore low functioning (severely) autistic subjects. So, if research is focused exclusively, or almost exclusively, on participants with high functioning autism or Aspergers, HOW much do we REALLY know about Autistic Disorder which, by definition, includes those with low functioning autism if we don’t’ study low functioning autism? Let’s be honest, many researchers are uninterested in an autism case that doesn’t have a direct bearing on a positive grant flow. I'd like to see reseachers spend time with a child with autisma and self injury (as seen on you tube)....they'd be in happy hour the first day....crying..

emerson said...

Dear Anonymous,
This book looks to give Dads (and Moms) some specific guidance on how develop some normalcy and proper affectionate behaviors in the household. While therapists focus on tasks and skills, I look to focus on some of the reasons parents had children - to have the family unit. Autism can wreak havoc on the family unit. The University of Florida found the number one reason Dads leave is because they have no idea how to connect with their child, they become overwhelmed, heartbroken then leave. And though it may sound like a selfish endeavor - for dads to get the connection they seek from their child - it has EVERYTHING to do with a child's therapy. The University of Florida also discovered that when a father was taught to connect with their autistic child and "stay in the game" the child's vocabulary typically increased by 50%!
When my son was first diagnosed I wish this book was on the shelves. It's not the end all, but it would have given me a starting point to start healing.

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