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What Is The Lovaas Method Of ABA Therapy?

The Lovaas Method is a practice that falls under the umbrella of ABA or Applied Behavioral Analysis.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
September 15, 2023
min read

What is the Lovaas Method?

The Lovaas Method is a practice that falls under the umbrella of ABA or Applied Behavioral Analysis. It's useful for kids that have been diagnosed with various developmental disorders, the primary being autism.

The program's structure is highly influenced by the work and research done by B.F. Skinner and Dr. Lovaas many decades ago. It began with doctors wanting to create more useful interventions that could assist children with different severities of autism.

From the beginning, its objective was a focus on behavioral treatment with toddlers.

This age is a formative time for children where the following crucial skills should be learned:

  • The ability to communicate with others
  • Daily living activities
  • Other educational skills

Lovaas Method interventions involve skills that are divided into smaller segments, rewarding autistic kids during their treatment in a positive way. After that, the children take in the skills that they learn in their natural setting, such as at home or in the classroom with their peers.

Sometimes referred to as Early Intensive Behavioral intervention, the Lovaas Method is fundamentally grounded in the following:

  • The involvement of parents
  • Developmental treatments that are easy to work into therapy sessions for autistic children
  • Strictly abiding by the practices set out in the field of ABA
  • A thorough understanding that every child with autism isn't the same as other children with the diagnosis
  • Good use of Discrete Trial Training, or DTT
  • Workable in a home-based setting

What does the Lovaas Method rely on?

The Lovaas Method is heavily reliant on Discrete Trial Training. It's a guaranteed way to help young children increase their prospects and minimize severe symptoms associated with autism. When the trial is being conducted, kids are provided different prompts and told to give the appropriate reply to each.

If a child cannot give a response to the prompt that's provided to them, the behavioral therapist can use greater assistance to better their chances of completing the demand. Good responses can be reacted to with praise, an edible treat like candy, or the child's favorite toy.

How does the Lovaas Method work?

The Lovaas Method works by staging interventions with children at an early age. There are varied approaches to teaching people with autism in ABA. Lovaas' Methods are primarily based on the needs of kids.

Lots of kids receive an autism diagnosis at ages two and three. ABA often starts with kids around ages three and four.

Parents play an important role in their treatment at such an age.

The method itself is meant for extended treatment, whereby the impact will be positively seen many years after the approach is completed. Most treatment schedules last an average of 40 hours a week. It's usually done at the child's residence.

The Lovaas Method also spearheaded the idea of antecedents, behavior, and consequences, also known as ABC. 

In a situation where a child attempts to take a piece of candy without asking for it, the therapist or parent can take it from them without saying anything. As this is a consequence, it'll often lead to a prompt where the child then asks for the candy.

If this occurs, the practitioner gives praise to the child, provides them the snack that they requested, or looks for another idea to reward them.

Who was Dr. Lovaas? How Was The ABA Method Founded?

Beginning his work with UCLA in 1961, Dr. Lovaas published many research papers on discriminating training and social reinforcers. It helped him to become a reputable figure in ABA.

While reviewing previous research done in the 1960s, which led up to the Lovaas Method. Although questioned initially, it's now verified as a useful ABA approach in the field.

steven zauderer

CEO of CrossRiverTherapy - a national ABA therapy company based in the USA.

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