Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a therapy based on the science of learning and behavior.
It helps us to understand:
- How behavior works
- How behavior is affected by the environment
- How learning takes place
ABA Therapy at TLC is based on behavior principles that are used for all people to learn. These behavior principles began to be studied in the 1950s. Doctors and Psychologists did not create the principles, they already existed. All doctors did was study them. Every living being learns from these same principles of behavior.
The goal is to increase behaviors that are helpful and lead to further learning and decrease behaviors that interfere with learning by applying these behavior principles directly to behavior.
To meet the definition of ABA, what is being taught must be “socially significant” to the individual or the family of the individual. If what is being taught is not important, then it does not meet the definition of ABA.
Lastly, all ABA is research-based. Any procedure that is used should have been already used in a research study and should be able to be reproduced and “applied” in future studies and obtain the same results.
TLC uses positive Reinforcement
When you ADD something to the environment and get an increase in the occurrence of a behavior, the behavioral principle applied is the principle of Reinforcement.
When you TAKE AWAY something from the environment which also increases the occurrence of a behavior, you have again used a principle of Reinforcement.
Any time you cause an increase in behavior, the principle of Reinforcement is being applied.
The Learning Center uses this powerful principle most of the time. Children learn how to request wants and needs, how to control their environment, how to dress themselves or play with another child all through Reinforcement. Much of the ABA intervention session looks like “play” to the child. A sign of a good Behavior Technician is when the child runs to them as soon as they enter the door of their home or classroom. The child has learned that this person is a Motivating Operation for obtaining good things and fun things in the process of learning skills that help him or her learn even more.
Planning & Ongoing Assessment
Prior to beginning intervention, your child will be evaluated primarily in the areas of communication, self-help, social skills, and appropriate behavior. Based on this evaluation, a behavior skills plan is written. Any skill a child has or does not have is considered a behavior. Behavior is not “something bad or inappropriate”. All skills people exhibit are behavior skills in the field of ABA.
If there are any skills that a child does not have, but should have for his/her age, a “program” or goal is written for teaching that skill. If the child has a behavior that is interfering with learning, a goal or “program” will be written for reducing that behavior so learning can take place.
Techniques & Philosophy
The techniques used by The Learning Center include: Pivotal Response Training, Natural Environment Training, Verbal Behavior Training through Discrete Trial Training (DTT), social skills training, Parent training, Modeling, use of an AAC devise for communication, Transitional skills, generalization skills, equivalence relations, and transformation techniques when appropriate.
All of these techniques are research-based. Most are listed as evidenced-based interventions by the National Autism Center’s National Standards Project.
We believe that we must show that the techniques being used have been demonstrated as successful by science. For that reason, we do our best to stay updated on the most current methods and techniques being used in the field. Changes made to the child’s intervention plan are driven by data. This means if the child is not successful, the technique or method being used must be modified or changed to help the child be as successful as possible in obtaining or learning a skill. Every effort is made to help the child reach his or her full potential.
All practices under the scope of ABA will be carried out as outlined by the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for ABA.
What does a typical session look like?
A small portion (about 10-15 minutes) of the hour would be spent in Discrete Trial Training (DTT). This part of the session is characterized by the child responding to a series of requests, directions, or questions. Difficult target responses are mixed with easy ones, mastered responses ate mixed with those that have not been mastered and new responses are continuously reinforced to keep motivation high. Then, time will be spent on the child learning to make requests. Finally, target objectives are moved to the Natural Environment so that the child is responding and requesting through play and social interaction with others. Play is the “natural environment” for a child. Skills are also taught in the preschool classroom. Skills taught in a discrete trial may be generalized into a play situation within the classroom.
How does TLC determine goals and work with parents?
Parental input is included in the intervention plan. Objectives that are important to the parent are targeted as soon as possible. The plan is written based on the assessment administered prior to the beginning of intervention and objectives on the plan are mastered or modified as needed.
Parents are invited to participate in parent training sessions that are held on an average of 3-4 times a month. Time is spent teaching parents about behavioral procedures as well as gaining input from parents on new objectives to be added to the intervention plan including objectives specific to parents to work on at home.
How is progress evaluated and how often are goals re-evaluated
Progress is evaluated daily by looking at the data collected for that objective as well by direct supervision by the supervising BCBA.
The child is re-evaluated every 6 months and goals are added to the intervention plan based on the re-evaluation.
How many hours per week is ABA Therapy
Research has demonstrated that children that receive 25-40 hours of ABA intervention have shown the greatest improvement in acquiring behavioral skills. The Learning Center also provides EIDT preschool, PT, OT, and Speech therapy in combination with ABA. Some children may need only “Focused” ABA to address specific areas of deficit such as a deficit in social skills or communication. For these children, 10 hours or less may be recommended. Based on the skill level of the child and the time that the child is available for intervention, the child may receive between 10 and 25 hours of ABA at TLC. Additional hours of intervention may also be requested or recommended for the home.