Have Questions About ABA Therapy in Singapore?

We’ve got all the answers that parents commonly ask here.

Frequently Asked Questions About ABA Therapy

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General Info About ABA Therapy

ABA stands for Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) and is the primary form of early intervention used in the United States and Canada. It is also endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General as the best form of treatment for autism. Verbal Behavior, which we call ABA-VB, is considered to be a modern and evolved ABA approach that focuses on naturalistic teaching with a strong focus on language development.

We hold the distinction of being closely guided by Dr James Partington, Ph.D., BCBA-D, a world-renowned expert in ABA-VB. We also have two BCBAs (Board-Certified Behavioral Analysts) on staff. You may have encountered many different therapy providers in your search for early intervention, all promising successful outcomes.

However, we do advise that you consider their training and curriculum carefully. Some providers mix ABA together with other therapy approaches. While they may claim that they are using the best of the different methodologies, beware that they may not be implementing any of them correctly as intended. ABA therapy is a discipline and requires a precise implementation to achieve maximum results.

No, ABA / Autism therapy in Singapore is not an experimental treatment. Of all forms of therapy and education available to children with autism, ABA is the most established form of Autism therapy, with over 50 years of research backing it. It is the only treatment whose benefits have been consistently validated by independent scientific research in Singapore and worldwide. Many organizations have also endorsed ABA, including (but not limited to) the following:

  1. United States Surgeon General
  2. American Academy of Neurology
  3. American Academy of Family Physicians
  4. American Academy of Paediatrics
  5. American Psychological Association
  6. Society for Developmental and Behavioral Paediatrics
  7. National Institute of Child Health & Human Development
  8. National Institute of Mental Health
  9. Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT)
  10. New York State Department of Health

At Autism Recovery Network (ARN), we provide a more advanced and effective version of ABA, which focuses on helping children with developmental delays develop and use language skills. You may also like to read 7 Differentiating Factors Of ARN’s Advanced & Intensive ABA-VB Therapy Programme From Other Centres in Singapore.

No, ABA Therapy for toddlers in Singapore is not considered ‘robotic training’. This myth deals with the mistaken idea that children/ toddlers are not being taught to be independent thinkers but merely trained to react to stimuli. However, many people don’t understand that all learning has some aspects of rote memorization and practised routine, whether in ABA therapy, regular school classroom, or simply learning from parents at home. There will always be things that a child is expected to do. 

When discussing “training”, one generally refers to creating habits of behavior – things we do without thinking about them. This means that many of our behavioral choices in life are reactions and habits. It is important to remember that ABA is data-oriented and dependent on what works. A programme is only successful if the targeted learning goals are being met frequently and consistently.

No, ABA therapy is not about using food and/ or toys to “bribe” kids. ABA is a reinforcement-based and scientifically proven to work for toddlers/children with autism. It is within human nature to be motivated by foreseeable things that will help us achieve specific goals, and children are no different when it comes to this. 

Reinforcement encourages positive behavior and promotes the frequency of a child practising good behavior in the future. The fact that reinforcement is defined as occurring after a behavior shows that the terms “bribe” and “reinforcement” are not the same. 

Bribes involve saying to someone, “If you do this, I will give you this.” Bribes are dependent on negotiation before the behavior occurs. Since reinforcement occurs only after a behavior is completed, they are not one and the same. In fact, most ABA programmes use the word “if” and “then” in their statements to boost ideal good behaviors. 

In general, ABA therapy in Singapore focuses on identifying strong motivational things to help children engage in the programme. There are no limits as to what reinforcers can be.

Yes! ABA is a scientific theory developed long before there was any thought of applying it to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ABA is a type of autism therapy and is commonly used to help people overcome all kinds of social and behavioral problems, such as quitting smoking, personality disorders, relationship counselling, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and many other common issues. The behavioral principles used for children with developmental delays only began in the late 1960’s and 1970’s.

The average cost of ABA therapy in Singapore is estimated at SGD$35,599 for 27 months and/ or SGD$70 to SGD$90 hours per session. (Yahoo Finance. 2018)  

The cost of ABA-VB therapy ranges almost the same, if not lower, than a typically ABA therapy. At ARN, we want to cater to more average household income families in Singapore by offering competitive ABA therapy fees without compromising the quality of our programmes and services. Our average fee per child in direct service is SGD$70 per hour, and the total cost will be determined by the number of therapy hours. You can expect the yearly costs to decrease over time as the child has made substantial progress. We recommend a minimum of three sessions per week for your child to receive maximum and fast benefit from our unique ABA-VB programme

Note to parents: Opting for cheaper alternatives may be too risky. It could reduce the child’s only chance to succeed in life and may even cost more in the future. 

The success of ABA therapy from a quality curriculum & skilled therapists can last an average of 2 to 4 years. The most important key lies in parents’ commitment to the time and effort in instructing and training their children outside of the therapy time.

Yes, ABA therapy is best seen as a long term treatment in supporting a child’s learning throughout their years of early schooling and adolescence. However, many researchers find ABA not flexible enough to change as the child progresses through different stages of life. For instance, when a child approaches school age, the programme may be geared more heavily toward specific academic and social skills instead of the foundational learning skills. 

In return for investing precious resources into ARN’s ABA-VB programme, parents can expect to see their child progress in skills, behavior and general quality of life.

Strategies & Tips for Parents

Not all ABA are alike, and hence, you have to research and educate yourself on the various types of ABA in Singapore in order to determine which therapy suits your child best. 

At ARN, we use our unique Verbal Behavior therapy (ABA-VB) to help children, and we are confident to help your child as well. Based on your child’s age, language ability and existing skills, we can customize our programme to suit their needs. In addition, our unique ABA-VB can treat both children with any level of challenging behaviors, of which some are non-verbal. 

Because of the flexibility of our unique ABA-VB programme, we can even incorporate practices (e.g. oral exercises) instructed by other professionals into your child’s Individualised Education Program (IEP).

When it comes to autism treatment, there are a number of different methodologies out there that differ in philosophy. However, when it comes down to scientific data and evidence-based results, ABA is backed by years of research and numerous studies, all of which have concluded that intensive ABA is the best choice of therapy for children with autism.

Verbal Behavior (ABA-VB) is widely considered as being the most modern and updated form of ABA. While other providers may claim to practice ABA-VB, we are the only provider that is directly guided and trained by a VB pioneer, Dr James Partington, Ph.D., BCBA-D.

Research studies have indicated that 30 to 40 hours of ABA produce the best outcomes for children with ASD. This recommendation is based on studies done in the 1980s that showed that about 50% of children receiving 40 hours of ABA therapy a week went on to lose all symptoms of ASD and become indistinguishable from typical children of the same age. We strongly recommend that you commit to 40 hours a week of ABA-VB so that you can see the difference intensive ABA-VB can make and the pace at which progress can take place.

As parents, you are investing time and money into your child’s intervention programme, and you deserve to have detailed and timely updates. Never accept an early intervention provider who doesn’t keep records. If you only have anecdotal observations to rely on, how would you be able to measure the effectiveness of the therapy and make any needed adjustments?
At ARN, your therapists will keep detailed records of the tasks carried out during each session and keep a journal of their observations for each session. These records are entered into our computer system as well as onto your child’s ABLLS-R® (WebABLLS) account so that you can monitor your child’s progress over the course of the IEP.

Having this information enables you to have a good discussion with your program supervisor, for example, about which areas your child finds more challenging and what types of goals to set next.

If you’re wondering whether it’s better to have therapy at home or in our centre, our experience is that there is no significant difference between the two in terms of your child’s progress. However, you may have a personal preference for one over the other based on its benefits. Here is a quick comparison of the benefits.

Therapy at homeCentre-based Therapy
• Therapy takes place in the child’s natural environment• Therapy takes place in our well-equipped centre
• The entire home is utilised as a learning space where the therapist moves around with your child to incorporate incidental teaching• All teaching materials and toys are provided, so parents do not need to create a space or buy materials
• No need to travel for therapy which is time-saving• A supervisor is always present to answer queries
• Caregivers are free to continue their daily activities while therapy is in session• More social interaction between children is possible at the centre
• Caregivers can naturally learn teaching strategies by observing therapists in action• One-stop-shop services allows caregivers to save time by scheduling speech therapy or occupational therapy on the same days.

It is crucial to be understanding and watchful with your child’s behavior pattern. It is often the case that children with developmental delays have difficulty getting their ideas and thoughts across, which may lead to frustration when misunderstood. Being taught to communicate effectively is the best way to deal with this issue and provide positive reinforcement to motivate your child.

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