“Applied behavior analysis” sounds like a chapter in a textbook I had to cram for and forgot after the exam. You may hear words like reinforcement, conditions, and punishment and may remember the experiments on the mouse in electronic box, but ask me how that relates to my child and I might get offended. Although I’ve got to hand it to these therapist that come day in and day out with the same passion and energy that I still can’t attain after a twice brewed coffee. And the more they work with my child the more I see the improvements he’s made.
However, the biggest improvement has been in my understanding of this intricate science. Within the last year I have learned more about my son and ways to better understand his behaviors.
It’s a domain in which individuals with autism have deficits. Both in receptive and expressive; communication is an area of need for all individuals with autism. ABA has broken down ways to address proper ways to teach expressive communication using ways to prompt such as a model prompt (saying the word with an intonation as a form of a question…ball?) and praising when they repeat the word. By doing this technique and fading into more open ended ways of promoting language, my son was able to spontaneously request words.
2. Teaching Skills
Another way ABA has addressed my sons deficits is when teaching him ways to respond to a listener. By focusing on specific tasks like “clean up” or “do this” creates clear opportunities for my son to understand. The use of errorless learning ensures that all requests are taught systematically until independent. It’s not that my son wasn’t listening or being defiant on purpose, it was the fact that my request was not clear and he was unaware of the task I set out for him. By following through and teaching the skill, my son was more compliant and this was less frustrating for both of us
3. Task Analyzing
A concept that sounds like an office organization strategy, Task analysis let me look at something I usually take for granted like washing my hands and broke it down. Task analysis breaks down a multi-step activity and teaches each step and chains it together to be one complete request. By breaking down a task you can teach steps individually and create a positive momentum for the entire task.
4. Creating Learning Opportunities
Another way ABA has addressed a way to teach skills is looking at activities creatively and keeping teaching opportunities in mind. Looking at it from ABA perspective, you should be able to create opportunities for expressive and receptive skills in each activity. As long as you can grasp the activity and plan some goals to target, you can make any fun activity a learning opportunity
5. Learning About Behavior
The most important aspect ABA has taught me was how to address problem behaviors. Time outs and sending them to their room are not always the best way to handle challenges from your child. Spankings may even heighten the behaviors causing everyone in the house to just be in a bad mood. ABA has taught me to put my analyst’s spectacles and see all behaviors as a form of communication. By addressing each behavior to one of the four reasons why we all do things, sensory, escape, attention, access to tangibles) [SEAT] we may be able to trouble shoot and create an opportunity to teach the appropriate way to address the problem behavior. If my kid is tantrumming for a cookie and I know it’s for that reason, I could prompt language or offer additional choices.