The Key Differences Between ABA And IBI Treatment


When a child is diagnosed with ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder, his or her parents might initially be overwhelmed by the treatment options available. After all, there are numerous options for Ontario parents to choose from. Many parents turn to Applied Behaviour Analysis (or ABA), a treatment option based on the ESDM (Early Start Denver Model) that uses scientific principles about learning and behaviour to teach people how to develop socially useful skills such as how to play and communicate with others, and reduce problematic behaviours such as physical aggression. Technical ABA includes positive and negative reinforcement, compartmentalizing skills and breaking them down into smaller tasks for easy learning, and encouraging specific actions through verbal and visual cues.

While ABA is most associated with ASD (autism spectrum disorder), it can also be used in other situations such as helping people with ADHD or substance abuse problems, and improving productivity in work settings. Ontario ABA therapy for those with autism typically lasts two to four hours per week for two to six months. Right now, the focus is on improving specific skills. Once an ABA training period ends, the child may reapply to continue working on a skill or learn a new skill. For some people on the autism spectrum, ABA is simply not intensive enough to make a sizable difference in behavior.

“Intensive” is the key word in Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) treatment. IBI is based on the principles of ABA, but the treatment typically runs 20 to 40 hours per week over two to three years, rather than four hours a week for two to six months. The speech language experts at Simone Friedman SLS explain that IBI is an intensive treatment, scheduled for a minimum of 20 hours per week and delivered on both the one-to-one instruction scale and in small groups. It requires direct, frequent measurement of the child’s performance and the fully customized plan requires contact progress updates, keeping the treatment plan fluid. If you’re curious about which IBI services Toronto offers, it pays to find the right clinic and the right treatment plan.

IBI is comprehensive in scope and targets a wide range of developmental areas. It is, perhaps most fundamentally, developmental in sequence, focusing on skill building in the order those skills would tend to appear in children who develop at a typical rate. IBI is designed to improve cognitive, language, and social development skills, and in order to do so, it is imperative that intervention be provided intensively during a child’s most plastic learning periods, and typically applied on a regular daytime schedule.

The goal of IBI is to help children with autism catch up developmentally with their peers and to increase the development trajectory — or the rate of learning. Treatment research suggests that up to 40% to 50% of young children can make substantial progress, usually over a period of 1 to 2 years, and many children show clinically significant cognitive improvement, as well as a boost in language and adaptive functioning.

If you live in Toronto, there are a number of both ABA and IBI treatment options available. Many clinics (such as Simone Friedman SLS) offer hybridized treatments — using the ESDM (Early Start Denver Model) as a foundation. Goals are derived from assessing the child’s developmental skills and treatment is provided using the principles of ABA applied within a more rigorous time frame. Contact a clinic near you today to learn which option might be right for your child.

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