Because of the Lord's faithful love
we do not perish,
for His mercies never end.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness!
Miles has been involved with ABA for 6 years. This therapy is helping him overcome many of his behavioral issues. We have been very blessed with an AMAZING therapist who has a heart, passion and calling for helping our children with Autism.
APPLIED BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS (ABA)
What is Applied Behavior Analysis?
Behavior analysis is a scientific approach to understanding behavior and how it is affected by the environment. Behavior refers to all kinds of actions and skills (not just misbehavior), and environment includes all sorts of physical and social events that might change or be changed by one's behavior. The science of behavior analysis focuses on principles (that is, general laws) about how behavior works, or how learning takes place. Through decades of research, the field of behavior analysis has developed many techniques for increasing useful behaviors and reducing those that may be harmful or that interfere with learning. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the use of those techniques and principles to address socially important problems, and to bring about meaningful behavior change.
Who Can Benefit from ABA?
ABA methods have been used successfully with many kinds of learners of all ages, with and without disabilities, in many different settings. Those techniques are used in both structured situations (such as formal instruction in classrooms) and in more natural everyday situations (such as during play or mealtime at home), and in 1-to-1 as well as group instruction. They are used to develop basic skills like looking, listening, and imitating, as well as complex skills like reading, conversing, and taking the perspective of others.
What is the Research on ABA for Autism?
Hundreds of published studies have shown that specific ABA techniques can help individuals with autism learn specific skills, such as how to communicate, develop relationships, play, care for themselves, learn in school, succeed at work, and participate fully and productively in family and community activities, regardless of their age. A number of peer-reviewed studies have examined the effects of combining multiple ABA techniques into comprehensive, individualized, intensive, early intervention programs for children with autism. Comprehensive refers to the fact that intervention addressed all kinds of skills: communication, social, self-care, play, motor, pre-academic, and so on. Intensive means that ABA methods were used to arrange large numbers of learning opportunities for each child every day in both structured and unstructured situations during which children actively learned and practiced skills.
What Does ABA Intervention Involve?
ABA intervention for autism is not a one size fits all approach. Every aspect of intervention is customized to each learner's skills, needs, interests, preferences, and family situation. Genuine, comprehensive ABA programs for learners with autism have certain things in common:
- Intervention designed and overseen directly by qualified, well-trained professional behavior analysts
- Detailed assessment of each learner's skills to determine initial treatment goals
- Selection of goals that are meaningful for the learner
- Ongoing objective measurement of learner progress
- Frequent review of progress data by the behavior analyst so that goals and procedures can be fine tuned as needed
- Instruction on developmentally appropriate goals in all skill areas (e.g., communication, social, self-care, play and leisure, motor, and academic skills)
- Skills broken down into small parts or steps that are manageable for the learner, and taught from simple (such as imitating single sounds) to complex (e.g., carrying on conversations)
- An emphasis on skills that will enable learners to be independent and successful in both the short and the long run
- Use of multiple behavior analytic procedures -- both adult-directed and learner-initiated to promote learning in a variety of ways
- Many opportunities specifically planned and naturally occurring -- for each learner to acquire and practice skills every day, in structured and unstructured situations
- Intervention provided consistently for many hours each week
- Abundant positive reinforcement for useful skills and socially appropriate behaviors
- An emphasis on positive social interactions, and on making learning fun
- No reinforcement for behaviors that are harmful or prevent learning
- Use of techniques to help trained skills carry over to various places, people, and times and to enable learners to acquire new skills in a variety of settings
Whether assembling or choosing an ABA program, keep in mind the following:
- Just as a medical treatment program should be directed by a qualified medical professional, ABA programs for learners with autism should be designed and supervised by qualified behavior analysts, preferably individuals who are Board Certified Behavior Analysts® (BCBA) with supervised experience providing ABA treatment for autism, or who can clearly document that they have equivalent training and experience. Always check credentials of those who claim to be qualified in behavior analysis.
- An ABA program should have the components and features listed
- Monitor the program by observing sessions and participating in training sessions and consultations
ABA helped Miles overcome the most disruptive behaviors that kept children from wanting to interact or play. This picture is of Miles at an amusement park & he was accompanied with friends!
Does your child receive ABA? Tell us what milestones it has helped them reach!
This article and more can be found at About.com under Autism Spectrum Disorders.