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What is ABA and IBI? What are the differences?

Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.
— Kofi Annan

What is ABA therapy?

ABA therapy stands for Applied Behavioural Analysis and it’s a set of methods based on scientific principles of learning. These principles act as a foundation for multiple Autism Spectrum-related interventions and therapies such as discrete trial training (DTT) and naturalistic teaching. 

ABA focuses on reducing problematic behaviours by understanding the underlying reasons, the context of which they occur, and the “triggers” of such behaviours. Applied Behavioural Analysis methods can help individuals of any age and of varying degrees of intensity of Autism Spectrum Disorder (Ministry of Children and Youth Services).

Did you know? Ontario’s public school boards are required to provide ABA methods as a component of special education services where appropriate. This, however, does not mean that these efforts are enough to aid the development of a child with ASD. Applying these methods at home or/and within your community have been scientifically proven by multiple studies to be successful (Evidence for Effectiveness of ABA as a Treatment for Autism).

What is IBI therapy?

ABA and IBI therapy are often used interchangeably by outsiders. However, many individuals fail to identify the differences between the two and do not know that IBI or Intensive Behavioural Intervention falls within ABA therapy.

IBI is actually a specific application of ABA. Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) is delivered by a qualified therapist and consists of a highly customized intensive program based on the needs of EACH child.

So what are the differences?

In this case, the word “Intensive” is the key word (TVO.org). ABA uses methods based on scientific principles of learning and behaviour to build useful modes of behaviour while reducing problematic ones. IBI is an application of ABA to teach new skills in an intensive format. Primarily, a one-to-one teaching ratio is required that lasts approximately 20 to 40 hours per week. Whereas ABA is usually provided for shorter periods of time and can be used by people in the autistic child’s life at home or at school (TVO.org).

While ABA methods reduce problematic behaviours, IBI is geared towards helping children in the Autism Spectrum catch up developmentally with their peers. “IBI aims to increase the rate of a child’s learning, to bring their skills closer to those of typically developing children, to decrease the symptoms of autism, and to prepare them for an appropriate school setting,” according to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

What should I go for?

A 2014 report commissioned by the Ontario government on autism services included a review of scientific literature. Studies indicate that IBI has the best chance of success at an early age with measurable benefits dropping significantly after the child hits five years of age.

I don’t think these are right for me. Are there any other alternatives?

If your child is between the ages of 12 to 48 months, you may try the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM). It’s a comprehensive early intervention approach based on relationship-building and encompasses a developmental curriculum. ESDM was created “to work with very young children with, or showing signs of, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)” (ESDM Canada).

According to Autism Speaks, the Early Start Denver Model “defines the skills to be taught at any given time and a set of teaching procedures used to deliver this content.” It’s also not tied to a specific setting like IBI and can be taught in group programs, individual therapy sessions or at-home.

Interested in the Early Start Denver model? Terrace Autism therapy is proud to present our upcoming group for Parents of Toddlers with or At-risk of Autism Spectrum Diagnosis. Terrace Autism Therapy also offers services in ABA and IBI, check out our full list of services

Additonal Sources:

  • http://www.esdmcanada.ca/early-start-denver-model-.html
  • http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/english/specialneeds/autism/aprk/asd-diagnosis-and-treatment/interventions.aspx
  • https://tvo.org/article/current-affairs/the-next-ontario/understanding-the-difference-between-aba-and-ibi-autism-treatments

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