What is Behavior Analysis?
Behavior Analysis is the systematic observation of behavior to determine the controlling events of that behavior. This information is applied to increase the occurrence of desired behavior and decrease the occurrence of an undesirable behavior through the use of behavioral procedures such as reinforcement, extinction, shaping, chaining, pompting and fading. The principles and methods of behavior analysis have helped many different kinds of learners acquire many different skills.
How Does ABA Benefit Those with Autism?
- Can Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Improve Adolescent and Adult Autism?
- The Top 10 Reasons Children with Autism Deserve ABA
A wide variety of ABA techniques have been developed to build useful skills in learners with autism and other developmental delays across the age span. This technology is used during intensive 1:1 sessions (between the behavior analyst and the learner) or in a classroom, on the play ground, during family dinnertime, and other “everyday” situations.
Within the science of behavior analysis, there are several common treatment techniques often used when addressing the needs of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). These included, among others, Discrete Trial Training, Verbal Behavior Programming, and Natural Environment Training.
- Discrete Trial Training (DTT) – Most commonly associated with ABA, DTT involves breaking skills into the smallest steps and teaching each step of the skill intensively until it is considered “mastered”. DTT includes; ample repetition, prompting and fading procedures, positive reinforcement.
- Verbal Behavior (VB) Programming – Based on B.F. Skinner’s 1957 analysis of Verbal Behavior, this type of programming emphasizes the acquisition of language and reinforces communication naturally.
- Natural Environment Training (NET) – Occurs in the learner’s natural environment and uses the learner’s natural interests to guide the lessons. NET is frequently used in conjunction with DTT procedures.
Today, ABA is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for autism. It has been endorsed by a number of state and federal agencies. Over the last decade, the nation has seen a particularly dramatic increase in the use of ABA to help persons with autism live happy and productive lives. Emphasis is placed on analyzing why certain behaviors are occuring and how caregivers may be able to change their own behavior to bring about positive change in the behavior of the learner. Behavioral strategies are developed to meet the specific needs of the learner. While autism may be a life-long condition, all children and adults benefit from interventions, or therapies, that can reduce symptoms and increase skills and abilities. Although it is best to begin intervention as soon as possible, the benefits of therapy can continue throughout life.
For children with autism, behaviors that may be addressed through behavior analysis includes, but is not limited to:
- Basic skills such as looking, listening and imitating
- Functional Communication
- Compliance to instruction
- Assertiveness skills for personal safety
- Self Help Skills (toileting, eating, personal hygiene, dressing etc.)
- Self monitoring and independent work
- Self Injurious Behavior (SIB)
- Complex skills such as reading, conversing, and understanding another person’s perspective.
Why should I choose ABA therapy to help my loved one with Autism?
ABA therapy, most notably the UCLA model or solid broad based ABA with >30 hours per week and parents as active co-therapists, is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for autism. But as a parent or caregiver you have hundreds of different options available to you in the treatment of your loved ones diagnosis. These interventions vary by effectiveness, safety, cost and effort. You want to choose the most effective treatment to get the biggest payoff…but how do you choose? Here are some links that contain a wealth of reliable information to help you make these important decisions.
- Association for Science in Autism Treatment
- National Autism Center – National Standards Project
- New Zeeland Ministry of Education
- National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (reviewed between groups studies)
- Cochrane Review