Treating Autism: Get to know the gold standard in care

After decades of study, ABA therapy has been proven effective for autism.

Welcome to Part 2 of our series exploring the top four treatments for children with autism. If you missed Part 1, you can catch up here.

This installment will provide you with important insights about ABA therapy and why it’s most often the first treatment recommended for children after they’ve been diagnosed. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get started!


ABA is short for Applied Behavior Analysis

As the name suggests, ABA is a type of Behavior Analysis – the scientific study of behavior and how people learn.

ABA therapy uses the knowledge that has been learned through the science of Behavior Analysis to help improve the lives of children and adults with autism. explains it well. ABA therapy applies our understanding of how behavior works to real-life situations. The goal is to increase behaviors that are helpful and decrease behaviors that are harmful or impede learning.


Key elements of ABA therapy

  • ABA therapy emphasizes positive reinforcement to change a child’s behavior. Have you ever offered your child something they want, like time to play video games, as a reward for doing their homework? That’s an example of positive reinforcement. When they get something they really want, a child is more likely to repeat the behavior. In this case, the behavior is doing their homework. Positive reinforcements encourage a child to continue doing the skill, and over time, it leads to meaningful change in their behavior.
  • Another important aspect of ABA therapy is understanding what happens right before a targeted behavior and right after. With this knowledge, we can better understand why a behavior is happening and how different consequences (like positive reinforcement) can affect whether the behavior is likely to happen again.
  • ABA therapy uses several techniques to change behavior and teach new skills. Three of the most used are prompting (where a child is given a verbal or visual cue to get a desired response); shaping (where a child is rewarded each time they get closer and closer to a desired response); and chaining (a way to teach a new skill by breaking it down into smaller, easier-to-learn steps.)
  • To make meaningful changes in a child’s behavior, they should be able to use skills they learn in a specific situation and apply it to a variety of other settings. In ABA therapy, this is called generalization and it helps children be more independent.
  • Data! During each ABA therapy session with a child, a lot of data is collected to document a child’s responses and uncover what works and what doesn’t. By looking at the data as a whole, adjustments can be made to increase success and add new challenges as goals are being met.


Wide-ranging benefits of ABA therapy

ABA therapy not only helps decrease unwanted behaviors, it also works to improve a child’s development in many critical areas, including:

  • Language and communications skills
  • Social skills that contribute to success in school and throughout life
  • Attention, focus, memory, and academic skills
  • Self-care skills, like bathing and toileting
  • Fine and gross motor skills (for example, using your hands and physical activities, respectively)

The overall goal is to help children become more independent and reach their full potential.


The ABA therapy process itself

ABA therapy starts with an evaluation of your child to determine areas of their development where they need extra help. The findings of the evaluation will be used to create an individualized therapy plan that outlines goals for your child and the steps to get there.

Therapy itself will either be one-on-one or in a small group setting of 2-3 children. Most children start in one-on-one therapy to learn prerequisite skills they need to progress into a group therapy situation with other kids their age and at their skill level.

As we mentioned above, data is collected during the entire therapy session and reviewed periodically with parents to ensure the child is making progress on their individual goals.

Many children attend therapy several times a week for several hours every day. School-aged children often spend half their day in school and the other half in ABA therapy.

Thankfully, most insurance plans cover ABA therapy!


Important factors for success

  • Early intervention – Children with autism as young as two can benefit from ABA therapy. The earlier children start, the better the short and long-term outcomes
  • Individualized therapy – All children are unique. Their ABA therapy plan should be, too. One size does not fit all.
  • A naturalistic and fun environment – Children learn best when they are relaxed and enjoying themselves. ABA therapy that makes learning natural is best.
  • Parent training – It’s vital that parents learn basic techniques of ABA therapy so they can reinforce skills at home that their child has learned in therapy.
  • Social interaction with peers – Children need the opportunity to learn social skills in a low-pressure environment with their peers. Center-based ABA therapy programs are ideal for this.
  • Find the best ABA therapy provider – You can minimize your search by going directly to org, where you can find a thoroughly evaluated and accredited provider in your area.

We hope you found this information helpful. If you have any questions about ABA therapy, get in contact with the experts here at The Behavior Exchange. If you in live North Texas or the greater Boulder area in Colorado, we’d love to meet you and give you a tour of our custom-designed hives.

Want to continue learning about autism treatments? Watch for Part 3 of our series on autism treatments coming next week!





Ashvina attended University of Bombay and graduated with a Bachelors of Commerce. She got her Montessori Diploma in 1985 and taught ever since. Ashvina came to TBE in January of 2016 as Admin Assistant. During the years she got the opportunity to learn and work in different departments such as HR, Finance, Office Manager and Executive Assistant. Last summer TBE bought billing in house and her current focus area is Revenue Cycle Management. She is detail oriented and enjoys working with people. Ashvina volunteers to deliver meals to seniors and local shelters on the weekend. She loves to spend time with her family and grandkids. Ashvina loves her job because she enjoys hearing different points of view, and she feels her contributions help fuel the direction of our company.

Working with children comes naturally to Angela. Her mom was a special education teacher for 30 years and often had Angela join her for Take Your Child to Work Day. And in high school, Angela spent every summer as the nanny for a little boy with an autism spectrum disorder. It was this experience where her passion for working with children with autism started to blossom.

From there, she went on to graduate from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Sciences. She learned about Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in a non-normative development class and from that moment knew that ABA would be her life’s work.

Angela moved to the DFW area shortly after and began working at The Behavior Exchange as a therapist. She worked on her Master’s in Behavior Analysis at the same time. A year after graduating, she earned certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Now, as a Clinical Director at The Behavior Exchange, she brings a life-long passion to her work, holding a special place in her heart for children with limited language skills and working closely with families to develop healthy sleep habits.

Danielle’s passion for working with families is deeply personal and from the heart. Her younger brother has an autism spectrum disorder, and through their journey as a family, she found her purpose in life as an advocate for individuals with special needs.

After graduating from the University of North Texas with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies, Danielle began volunteering at The Behavior Exchange. She saw passionate therapists, meaningful change for clients, and families with hope for the future. After a summer of volunteering, she officially joined the team as Director of Admissions and found her home with The Behavior Exchange family.

With her extensive experience working as a client advocate with insurance providers, Danielle perseveres to help individuals of all ages and abilities receive the services they need to reach their full potential. She feels truly honored by each and every family who entrusts The Behavior Exchange to be part of their journey and is committed to the organization’s core values, mission, and goal of being a beacon of hope for the community.

Adam has always had a passion for helping individuals of all ages thrive and reach their full potential. He’s also an enthusiastic musician, songwriter, leader, and devoted family man, who has been helping children and team members grow with The Behavior Exchange since 2010.

Prior to joining the team at The Behavior Exchange, Adam was a mortgage loan consultant and grad student, pursuing his master’s degree in Education at the University of North Texas. He graduated in 2013 and also earned a graduate academic certificate in Autism Intervention. The following year, after years as a Behavior Therapist and seeing first-hand the power of ABA and the meaningful impact it can have on children and their families, Adam became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. He then commenced from the Stagen Leadership Academy after completing the Integral Leadership Program (ILP), a 52-week practice-based program designed to develop executives serious about transforming themselves, their teams, and their organizations.

Adam is truly grateful to be a part of a dynamic, inspiring and compassionate team, and he’s dedicated to bettering the lives of all children and their families through the delivery of the highest quality of ABA services, while supporting the amazing team at The Behavior Exchange.

Soraya is from South Africa and moved to Texas in 1996. She graduated from The University of Texas and pursued a career, at that time, in Education. Soraya taught at a Montessori school for a few years and then took on a leadership role.

During her time in the education system, Soraya realized her passion was to assist children with special needs. So she joined The Behavior Exchange as a therapist, transitioned into a supervisory role in 2017, and a year and a half later, was promoted to Clinical Operations Manager.

She quickly learned the ins and outs of ABA operations and scheduling and successfully collaborates across departments to ensure The Behavior Exchange continues to provide quality services to clients and their families. She’s thankful to be part of such an amazing organization and excited to see what the future holds.

You could say Walter’s career started when he spent hours as a young child drawing superheroes and coloring maps. This passion, along with extraordinary swimming skills, landed him a full swimming scholarship at Texas Christian University, where he graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Graphics.

During the next 13 years, his design and art direction skills, conceptual-thinking abilities, and marketing-savvy know-how were honed at a few prestigious advertising and marketing agencies around the Dallas area. In the mid 2000s, he helped his wife Tammy Cline-Soza (founder and CEO of The Behavior Exchange) create a unique and concise brand for her new business. From logos and websites to uniforms, brand voice and visuals, Walter has been the main creative force for all things The Behavior Exchange.

Aside from giving birth to The Behavior Exchange brand, Walter is helping Tammy raise two amazing, beautiful children, River and Sierra. In his spare time (the two minutes he’s got per week), you can find Walter illustrating iconic landmarks of Dallas and Texas or looking around for this next open-water swim. Once he gets back in shape.

After 20 years of building The Behavior Exchange, literally from the ground up,
Tammy couldn’t be more proud of the team, culture, and organization that it has become.

As a family helping families, The Behavior Exchanges looks for opportunities that will make the biggest impact and produce life-changing outcomes – for clients, families, and even for team members. Tammy believes that if a team, a family, a community takes care of each other, the possibilities are endless and the relationships built along the way can make life more enriching and challenges easier to navigate. You could say her goal has been to build a kind of utopia full of support, love, and expertise that brings the best services possible to the community and ensures more families have access to those services.

Tammy and her family have dedicated their lives to the mission of The Behavior Exchange and continue to grow, learn, cultivate, challenge, support, and create better models for success. To that end, she is committed to her own leadership development and actively participates in advanced training, mentoring, and deep self-exploration on how to live out her purpose to love and support her family and help others reach their full potential. She takes her position very seriously and tries to serve as a channel for what the universe wants to come to fruition.

She also loves travel, gardening, being creative, MUSIC!, tennis, yoga, meditation, journaling, reading, being in nature, adventures, and more than anything, spending time with her husband Walter and their two beautiful children, River and Sierra.