Speech therapy and Applied Behavior Analysis, also known as ABA therapy, are two approaches for supporting patients with speech, language, and communication challenges. Although they’re rooted in different philosophies and incorporate distinct techniques, using them in conjunction can provide substantial benefits. The guide below explains them in more depth. 

What Are Speech Therapy & ABA Therapy?

Speech-language therapy is specifically used to help patients improve their language and communication skills. People on the Autism spectrum and those with conditions or injuries that have impacted their speech can benefit. Depending on the patient’s condition, the pathologist might help them strengthen their jaw muscles or learn to use an electronic speech aid. They may also help them improve diction or better respond to social cues. Usually, sessions are one-on-one and involve creative mechanisms, like games, pictures, and songs to help patients meet specific goals. 

Applied Behavior Analysis is a type of therapy focusing on improving several areas through behavioral conditioning, where positive actions are rewarded. This technique is also often used to help patients with Autism. Areas of focus include specific skills, including language, communication, socialization, reading, and adaptive learning abilities, such as self-care and fine motor dexterity.

ABA therapy

How Do These Therapies Work Together?

Because ABA therapy addresses various skills and behaviors, an ABA therapist can benefit from working with multiple team members with expertise in target areas. This can include occupational therapists to assist with fine motor skill development and speech-language therapists (SLPs) to support communication goals. 

Team members can collaborate to establish a comprehensive strategy and support one another and the patient throughout treatment. For instance, speech-language therapists can help ABA practitioners treat behavioral challenges affecting verbal communication. On the other hand, ABA therapists can help SLPs interpret behaviors and develop techniques to support the patient in improving their language abilities. Establishing a team also facilitates the carryover of skills across multiple areas and provides consistency, where patients have congruous expectations and experiences with all their therapists. 


If you think your loved one could benefit from ABA therapy, turn to Patterns Behavior Services, formerly Compass Innovative Behavioral Strategies. Based in Costa Mesa, CA, and founded by a reputable Ph.D., Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), this provider offers a variety of resources to help individuals and families navigate life on the Autism spectrum. Call (657) 444-9002 to speak with a team member to schedule a consultation. Visit the website to learn more about ABA therapy, caregiver training, and educational support.