Comparing Applied Behavior Analysis with Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy

Professionals in the fields of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Occupational Therapy (OT), and Speech-Language Therapy (SLT) all share the goal of making a meaningful difference in the lives of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by shaping their social and communicative skills.

However, each child is unique and different deficits call for different therapy approaches. Although some target areas of ABA, OT, and SLT overlap, ABA offers a more comprehensive curriculum for children on the Spectrum.

What makes ABA, OT, and SLT different?

SLT can help ASD-diagnosed children with a variety of speech deficits, including problems with articulation and fluency, voice disorders, expressive disorders (difficulty putting words together or expressing language in a socially acceptable way), and receptive disorders (trouble with understanding language).

Speech therapists can help children work on pronunciation, phonation, intonation, pitch, and fluency, which are areas that are also targeted in ABA. SLT is most beneficial for children who already have the ability to vocalize speech but need help fine-tuning certain aspects of it.

However, many children with ASD are entirely nonverbal, which means that the core functions of language must be addressed before targeting problems with articulation and fluency. This is where ABA targets the more fundamental deficits of language for which SLT falls short.

OT helps children with ASD improve upon specific developmental areas such as motor deficits, adaptive skills, and sensory issues. It can teach special needs children some of the essential skills for day-to-day life, like bathroom etiquette and physical coordination.

OT is particularly beneficial for children with severe physical impairments, but it doesn’t cover as many areas of human functioning as ABA. Along with improving motor skills, adaptive skills, and sensory processing issues, ABA helps children with ASD progress in the areas of language, play, social skills, cognition, executive functions (problem-solving, planning, memory), and academics.

In short, ABA can address many of the deficits focused on by OT and SLT, but also targets additional developmental areas that are critical for the ultimate goal of mainstreaming children with ASD into neurotypical classrooms.

The ABA curriculum at Action Behavior Centers is customized to concentrate on the specific developmental needs of each child. Most children in OT and SLT only receive a few hours of therapy per week, while our center provides up to 40 hours of full-time therapy per week. More therapy hours per week leads to more drastic results, which is validated by empirical scientific research.

To find out more about ABA therapy, you can reach out to us via our contact form or give us a call at (512) 572-0157.