Almost every aspect of our lives has been affected by COVID-19, including our work, our access to school, and our social interactions. The pandemic has posed significant obstacles for people receiving applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy, with a particular impact on educational and social engagement.
Students around the world have experienced some level of difficulty with the so-called ” new normal” of distance learning these days. In particular, those with autism and other similar conditions may struggle to make the same progress as before. These people received face-to-face behavioral treatment with an ABA therapist before the pandemic, either at home or in a clinic. In either case, the therapist would typically carry out planned activities using active stimulation techniques, facilitated play, and precise data collection techniques to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention. Due to COVID-19, remote technologies and telehealth solutions have been used more frequently in recent years to provide ABA services to individuals and families.
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges but has also opened the door to expanding the provision of behavior-analytic therapies for children with autism and other developmental, emotional, and behavior-analysis services have produced excellent results, according to professional and caregivers, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Behaviour Analysis. Additionally, several healthcare organizations have authorized reimbursement for telehealth services, as mentioned in the Autism Service Providers Council’s March 2022 article on Practice Parameters for Telehealth: Implementing Applied Health Analytics. This further enhances telehealth applications in the feasibility of ABA, In this regard, professionals who practice ABA therapy procedures in their training and work environment.
Challenges of ABA Therapy during COVID-19
Limited access to technology, preservation of privacy, and management of the therapeutic environment are some of the difficulties associated with teletherapy. Setting up a dedicated teletherapy space at home can help resolve these difficulties. A dedicated space will reduce distractions, ensure good lighting, and create consistency for both parents and children. Additionally, it is essential for the therapist to provide a safe environment that preserves anonymity when using telemedicine.
It is essential to establish clear expectations from the beginning, including obtaining authorization and reviewing contracts. To maximize therapy outcomes, certified behavior analysts (BCBAs) must learn to modify their service model when the therapist’s role changes from direct service provider to behavior coach.
Positive Effects of ABA Teletherapy During and After COVID-19
We can use telehealth to train caregivers to perform therapies, assess generalization and maintenance of skills, and track new behaviors, among other things. In teletherapy, the training of caregivers is a crucial element. This therapeutic approach could be more practical for parent involvement and training. Teletherapy is a useful tool for teaching caregivers how to use specific programs and techniques to improve their skills. Since caregivers are directly involved, this promotes the generalization of skills rather than relying on the therapist to carry out interventions.
The therapist can assess whether skills are generalizing because the therapy is moving from in-person instruction to teletherapy. It may be difficult for the therapist to assess maintenance and generalization to the home environment if the therapy was conducted in a clinical or educational context. In some situations, new behaviors may appear, which can be evaluated and treated through the teletherapy approach, Finally, teletherapy can be more affordable for families, improving access to services.
Other ABA Therapy Applications
Although the implementation of ABA is often tied to autism and disability services, it is essential to remember that there are many uses of ABA in telemedicine that are relevant and effective in career opportunities. Clinical behavior analysis, sports and fitness, organizational behavior management, addiction, and substance abuse treatment are just a few of the subspecialties of ABA that have broad applicability for people seeking to change their behavior, whether in person or through telehealth options. The Behavior Analysis section of the Behavior Analysis Certification Board has more details on the many subspecialties.
Applied behavior analysis and application potential continue to grow in today’s new normal. The options are practically limitless, but now is the perfect time to get started.