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Occupational Therapy vs ABA Therapy: Differences & How To Choose

by on 02/10/2022 3235

Medical doctors and therapists agree that the sooner a child with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) receives early intervention treatments, the better their prognosis. Early intervention is beneficial for all children with autism. There is strong evidence that children with autism spectrum disorders who receive early intervention for at least two years before beginning special needs school will see significant improvement with their ASD.

Early intervention training methods include speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and applied behavioural analysis (ABA). Given the complexity of autism spectrum disorder, many parents find it helpful to compare the methods used by ABA and occupational therapy.

But what are ABA and occupational therapy? Which would be the most beneficial for your child? We break down the information you need to make the right choice.


What is Occupational Therapy (OT)?

Occupational Therapy vs ABA Therapy: Differences & How To Choose

An occupational therapist (OT) focuses on occupations or the activities that take up our time. Children spend most of their time playing, which is why occupational therapists for children concentrate on developing abilities through play.

Daily living activities such as self-care skills, fine motor skills, sensory, social skills, and emotional control are just a few areas OTs work on. To help children achieve these goals, OTs use various treatment methods. This includes breaking down tasks and analysing it to identify which specific skills are challenging for the child. These skills are then addressed in a meaningful way to the child through play.

OTs can help support a child's growth and participation in natural surroundings while also enhancing a family's capacity to care for their child. The idea behind OT is that kids learn skills for real-world situations that can be used frequently or daily.

This is where it contrasts with ABA, which tends to teach skills in one area and gradually generalise them to different situations and people over time.


What is Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA)?

Occupational Therapy vs ABA Therapy: Differences & How To Choose

Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) is a field of practice that blends applied skill learning with assessing and evaluating the child's responses and actions to their surroundings. The progress of each child is unique and follows a specific pattern tailored to the following:

  • Individual needs
  • Circumstances
  • Social setting

Children receive assistance from the analyst by learning practical skills that matter. The study focuses on the child's challenges and aims to increase participation in the family, the classroom, and other social settings.

Behaviour analysts focus on:

  • Communication skills and language abilities
  • Daily living skills
  • Imitation abilities, play skills, and social interaction
  • Cognitive abilities and motor skills
  • Behavioural adjustments and personal safety awareness

Analysts help children with ASD and their weaknesses to develop socially useful behaviours like communication and language abilities. The analyst usually creates a plan with both short-term and long-term objectives. This formula is adaptable and can change depending on the child's needs.

A child's responses can be measured by ABA, tracking their progress in whether they’re achieving their objectives. With ABA, useful intervention techniques are available, such as:

  • Positive reinforcement
  • Generalisation
  • Task analysis

Understanding how environmental factors affect specific abilities can be identified by analysing a child's behavioural problems. Then, through this analysis the environmental elements can be changed, and learning and skill acquisition can all be enhanced. This analytical process involves observation, information collecting, and the development of targeted strategies.


The Benefits of Occupational Therapy (OT)

When it comes to being as functional and independent as possible, occupational therapy (OT) helps people of all ages do the things they need and want to do. Occupational therapists work to assist patients in living life to the fullest.

Paediatric occupational therapists assist kids with independence in daily living activities, academic performance, addressing sensory processing issues, and more. Here are some of the benefits of occupational therapy for kids:

Paediatric occupational therapists assist kids with independence in daily living activities, academic performance, addressing sensory processing issues, and more. Here are some of the benefits of occupational therapy for kids:

Improves independence in everyday living chores

The essential daily chores include eating, dressing, and personal care are considered activities of daily living. An OT can assist your child in carrying out everyday tasks with greater independence and comfort.

Focuses on problems with sensory processing

Occupational Therapy vs ABA Therapy: Differences & How To Choose

Children with sensory processing disorders frequently exhibit difficulties combining information from their basic five senses, including:

1. Sight

2. Smell

3. Hear

4. Taste

5. Touch

At various locations, including school, home, or anywhere else, these kids may exhibit either oversensitivity, under sensitivity, or both. A loud fire alarm or other such distractions frequently cause these children to struggle with paying attention.

Additionally, they make an effort to stay away from nearby activities and gatherings. Occupational therapy can assist those young children in regaining their skills and effectively addressing the problem.

Improves fine and gross motor skills

Occupational Therapy vs ABA Therapy: Differences & How To Choose

In contrast to fine motor abilities, which use tiny muscles in the forearm and fingers, gross motor skills involve moving muscles in the arms, legs, etc. Children who struggle with these skills may have issues walking, riding a bike, and doing other activities. The issue can be managed and ultimately resolved with occupational therapy.


The Benefits of Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA)

The goal of ABA therapy is to improve a child's independence and function while also preparing them for success in adulthood. Additionally, ABA aims to assist the kid in behaving and functioning more neurotypicals so that they can integrate into society more successfully.

The benefits of Applied Behavioural Analysis are as follows (ABA):

Enhances social skills

The social abilities needed to establish friendships or get along with classmates are frequently lacking in children with autism. ABA works brilliantly when teaching a kid how to connect with people, whether it is about making acceptable eye contact, waiting their turn, sharing toys, starting conversations, or recognising and reacting to social cues.

Although non-verbal kids might not develop as much as kids with higher functioning levels, ABA therapy will definitely help their general social connection.

Encourages effective parenting

Occupational Therapy vs ABA Therapy: Differences & How To Choose

When raising a child with ASD, it is important to understand the child's characteristics and actions better, especially when they are upset and unable to express themselves like typically developing children.

Given that ABA is such a highly adaptable programme, the therapist can develop a structured treatment plan that considers the child's particular requirements and developmental objectives. Parents participating fully in the project and using the customised ABA-based strategies can be immensely empowering for the parents and incredibly beneficial for the child.

Promotes independent living skills

Children with ASD could require assistance learning fundamental life skills, which involve self-care and self-grooming. The ABA specialist gathers information as part of therapy, identifies behavioural patterns, and creates customised interventions to support desired behaviours. As a result, the child's capacity to follow instructions and become more independent improves.


What are the differences between OT and ABA?

Occupational Therapy vs ABA Therapy: Differences & How To Choose

In OT, learnt skills are applied to the environment in which they are first acquired. OT's strength and key distinction from ABA is how specifically it approaches learning. The main goals of OT includes:

  • Physical rehabilitation
  • Restoring physical function
  • Educating the patient to work within constraints

The basic instrument of OT is the functional assessment. It serves as the basis for goal-setting to improve the person's independence and functional capacity. The evaluation may advice on the following:

  • conclusions regarding the necessity of long- or short-term assistance
  • indicate the need to modify the living space by including assistive technology or equipment

For ABA, it incorporates a diagnostic capacity to identify flaws and suggest potential solutions for improvement. The mental and cognitive conditions are the main focus. The ABA evaluation is a diagnostic technique that can highlight a person’s problematic areas, such as:

  • Comprehension
  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills

Applied behaviour analysts helps kids with ASD to adjust in settings like classrooms, at home or other social settings by using various strategies to improve the following:

  • Social adjustment
  • Learning
  • Achievement

The effects of ABA on the child are both intrinsic and developmental. These changes improve the child's life experience.


What are the similarities between OT and ABA?

Both OT and ABA focus on identifying the abilities that children struggle with and coming up with solutions to assist them in becoming more proficient. ABA and OT strongly emphasise breaking down tasks into smaller, more manageable steps to achieve goals.

Whichever therapy that you have decided on for your child, make sure that you have done extensive research on the therapist and ensure that they have gone through substantial training in professional ethics and use direct professional-to-client treatment modalities.


Your Children Deserve The Best Treatment To Live A Fulfilling Life

Occupational Therapy vs ABA Therapy: Differences & How To Choose

A range of interventions is needed for children with autism because they have a range of needs. Consultation time in the collaborative process must be used to discuss objectives and progress while instructing and guiding service providers to address challenges effectively.

When looking for effective therapy, parents should be aware of what constitutes evidence-based practices because hundreds of treatments use these methods to reduce ASD symptoms.

Looking for professional special needs therapists in Malaysia? Visit our website now!

In Malaysia, there are many centres that offers special needs services for children, but it’s important to schedule a screening as early as possible as early intervention is key to positive outcomes. Kiddy123 is Malaysia’s No.1 Early Childhood Directory where we help parents to find preschools, enrichment programs, and more! Contact us today or call us at +603-74981203.