What are the benefits (or not!) of ABA tutors?
Are they worth it?
What is the alternative if you need professional help?
As specialists in providing expert SEN tutors for children with a variety of special education needs (SEN) including autism, ADHD, dyslexia, behavioural needs and speech and language delay, we understand that making the decision to seek the help of a tutor to develop your child’s developmental and educational potential can be tough for many parents.
With lots of options out there to choose from, how do you know what kind of support might be best for your child?
For instance, if your child has autism, you may have come across Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) tutors (or ABA therapists).
Let’s take a look at what this means – and what the potential pitfalls are in choosing this type of tutoring service.
What do ABA tutors do?
ABA tutors focus on a behavioural therapy which has the goal of changing observable measurable behaviour, usually using positive reinforcement methods.
Data is used to see how the rate of behaviour changes from these so-called manipulations or reinforcements.
There is not one universal definition of ABA – some ABA tutors may have a goal to make a child with autism indistinguishable from their peers who are non-autistic.
ABA therapy has a controversial background.
Its founder, O. Ivar Lovaas, used electric shocks to stop children from engaging in their obsessive, repetitive behaviours. Lovaas systematically trained the children with equal combinations of love and pain to try to make them behave more like their non-autistic peers. Some people have compared the approach to dog-training.
“One way to look at the job of helping autistic kids is you have to construct a person. You have the raw materials, but you have to build the person, he said”
Many supporters of ABA say that the focus of this type of therapy has changed, that punishments are no longer used and that activities are always positive and rewards-based.
But for some people with autism or parents of children with autism who speak out against this therapy or type of tutoring, the underlying issue with ABA is, that while it may address a child’s behaviour, it does so without considering the individual’s unique needs and personal strengths.
How SENsational Tutors work differently to help children with autism
We focus on every individual child with autism. We help the unique individual he or she is – and we celebrate this uniqueness.
Children and young adults with autism often have special interests, which some people consider to be ‘obsessions’ or ‘fascinations.’
SENsational Tutors consider special interests as positive opportunities, to design bespoke and creative plans, which will engage and excite the students. Indeed, instead of trying to work against special interests, our SEN tutors work to understand what each child is drawn to. Tutors then tailor a learning programme which incorporates these interests, in order to develop a fun and creative personalised curriculum which will advance the student’s development.
This not only maintains the student’s focus and concentration, but also helps to develop a fundamental love of learning. The tutors at SENsational Tutors believe that all learning should be FUN!
One specialist SEN autism tutor, Elise, explains her approach to teaching children or young adults who are on the autism spectrum.
“No two people are exactly alike and the same can be said for children autism. My approach as an educator for working with children with autism is to get to know them as an individual – their interests and passions, their hopes and aspirations, the things that matter to them as an individual.
I always keep in mind that children with autism have different ways of communicating and that I need to use whatever works best for them. This could include using visual cues, specific language programs such as Makaton or implementing social stories to explain different scenarios. I also ensure that I use literal terms rather than metaphors. For example, if I told a child with autism to ‘Put your coat on because it is raining cats and dogs’ the child will go outside expecting to see cats and dogs falling from the sky. It is also vital that children with autism have expectations. These expectations need to be realistic for that child. But, as we all know, children are resilient, and they are capable of accomplishing the targets we set for them when given the tools and support to do so.”
As well as appreciating and adapting her teaching according to the preferred learning methods and styles of her students, Elise also carefully plans her lessons and uses her skills to help to build confidence in every student’s ability to learn at a pace that suits them.
“As a teacher and lecturer or tutor, I make sure I always have a lesson plan, student reports and individual records of work to help map out what needs be studied and when, and to keep abreast with the administration involved.”