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How Does ABA Therapy Help With Sensory Processing?

Sensory processing issues are a common problem that affects children with autism. Over the years, several treatment strategies have been developed to help them overcome sensory challenges, including Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA). ABA therapy has gained popularity in recent years because of its effectiveness in improving communication, social interaction, and behaviour concerns in individuals with autism. Did you know that ABA therapy can also address sensory processing issues? In this post, we will explore how ABA therapy helps with sensory processing and how it can support children with autism.

ABA therapy focuses on teaching adaptive functioning skills:

ABA therapy is a science-based approach that aims to replace unwanted behaviours with positive ones. The therapy focuses on teaching adaptive functioning skills, which are essential skills for daily living. These skills include self-care, communication, social interaction, and problem-solving. By teaching these skills, ABA therapy can help children with autism overcome sensory challenge. For instance, by teaching self-care skills, such as brushing teeth or taking a bath, children can learn how to handle stimuli such as water or toothpaste.

ABA therapy uses positive reinforcement to shape behaviour:

Positive reinforcement is a key component of ABA therapy. ABA therapists use positive reinforcement to encourage desired behaviours in children with autism. Reinforcement can be in the form of verbal praise, tokens, or tangible rewards. ABA therapists can use reinforcement to help children with sensory issues. For example, if a child with autism struggles with loud noises, the therapist can reward the child each time they tolerate a loud noise for a set amount of time.

ABA therapy incorporates sensory integration techniques:

Sensory integration techniques are also employed in ABA therapy to encourage children with autism to experience and respond appropriately to various sensory experiences. This technique involves exposing children to sensory stimuli at increasing intensities until they learn to tolerate them. For instance, if a child with autism is sensitive to touch, the therapist may use sensory integration techniques, such as deep pressure massage or weighted clothing, to help the child get used to touch sensations.

ABA therapy focuses on promoting the generalization of skills:

In ABA therapy, promoting the generalization of skills is an essential component of treatment. Generalization refers to the ability of a child to apply the skills learned in therapy to various settings and situations. ABA therapy can use generalization to support sensory processing challenges by teaching children how to handle sensory experiences in their daily lives. For instance, if a child with autism learns how to manage loud noises during therapy sessions, they can use those skills to tolerate loud noises in different environments, such as school or home.

ABA therapy includes a parent training component:

Parent training is a vital aspect of ABA therapy. During training, parents learn how to identify their child’s sensory triggers and how to apply techniques learned in therapy sessions at home. By incorporating parents in the therapy process, children with autism receive continuous support and care that can help them overcome sensory processing challenges.


In conclusion, ABA therapy is an effective treatment strategy that can help individuals with autism improve their social behaviour, communication, and daily living skills. While it is known for its behavioural interventions, ABA therapy can also address sensory challenges. By focusing on adaptive functioning skills, positive reinforcement, sensory integration, generalization of skills, and parent training, ABA therapists can help children with autism overcome sensory processing challenges and lead fulfilling lives. ABA therapy should, therefore, be considered a viable treatment option for sensory processing issues in children with autism.