What is Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a scientific, systematic and evidence-based approach to understanding and changing behavior in order to improve individual’s lives. By analyzing how an individual’s current behaviors function — meaning how those behaviors meet certain needs in a particular environment — a behavior analyst can identify ways to modify the environment and teach new skills that will improve an individual’s health and safety, ability to communicate, social relationships and independence.
For example, in an ABA session, a behavior therapist will reinforce desired behaviors or functional skills by providing desired outcomes, such as a candy, toys, games, praise, etc., when a desired behavior is exhibited. Behavior therapists will withhold reinforcements when undesired behaviors, such as tantrums and aggression, are displayed. Students quickly learn that desired behaviors will easily and quickly bring them desired results, whereas undesired behaviors will not bring about desired outcomes. Over time, prompts and rewards are gradually removed to help the student learn to integrate desirable behavior in natural environments.
Research has shown that ABA is a very effective treatment for students with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental delays.
Individualized In-Home Autism Therapy &
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Consultation
Our in-home Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) consultation services are designed to help you increase your child’s positive, age-appropriate behaviors. A Board Certified Behavior Analyst will observe and assess your child to determine the causes for challenging behaviors and then will work with your family to improve your child’s ability to function independently. This may include speech and language development, gross and fine motor development, daily living skills and vocational skills, and skills acquisition. You will work closely with the consultant as a team to ensure your child receives consistent reinforcement and teaching, which ultimately lead to success and improved behavior.
Behavioral Observation Data Collection
Our Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) experts gather data about your child at every session using program sheets, often organized by task/skill. You may also see various charts and graphs that record your child’s behavior. We encourage you to review the program binder frequently and ask questions, since it is important for you to understand the goals and objectives being targeted and how your child’s responses are being documented. It’s important for you as a parent or caretaker to review the data together with your Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and use this information to modify behavior plans as necessary. This will give your child the best opportunity for success.
Behavioral Therapy Scheduling
We encourage you to pick a consistent behavioral therapy schedule for your child, based on your family’s schedule as well as that of the team. Hours per session will be determined by the needs of your child and on a case-by-case basis. Any changes to the behavioral therapy schedule must be communicated directly to your RBT and/or your BCBA. Please advise us of any schedule changes well in advance so that appropriate alternative arrangements can be made.
To identify the root causes of challenging behaviors and developmental delays in children or adolescents on the autism spectrum, we use language and behavior assessments. This well-established approach has been demonstrated effective by empirical research and extensive experience. Based on the information from these assessments, our Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) will select appropriate interventions and design an individualized treatment plan that works for both your child and your schedule. Our consultants will also help you implement the treatment plan.
We begin by extensively evaluating your child’s current communication skills, barriers to communication, and his or her pre-academic, social and self-help skills. The information we gather forms the basis for your child’s individualized treatment plan. Our assessments include:
We use the preference assessment to identify behavioral reinforcement mechanisms and pinpoint environments where these mechanisms are most powerful. To start, we closely observe your child to identify high preference items, then we prioritize those items by presenting them to your child for selection. We use these items as a means to reinforce positive behavior. As your child’s preferences change, we update the preference assessment. Preference assessments are valuable because they help us form hypotheses about the relationship between behavior and the environment. They also provide information about the function of behavior, help identify reinforcement mechanisms and foster proactive, positive interventions.
FUNCTIONAL BEHAVIOR ASSESSMENT (FBA)
This assessment helps us uncover the function or purpose that a challenging behavior serves for your child, including attention, escape/avoidance, etc. In other words, we help determine why your child is displaying challenging behaviors. Once these behaviors are identified, we can identify replacement behaviors that serve the same function. Gradually, your child will learn that challenging behavior is no longer successful at meeting a goal.
VERBAL BEHAVIOR MILESTONES ASSESSMENT AND PLACEMENT PROGRAM (VB-MAPP)
This assessment is based on Dr. B.F. Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior and the typical verbal development of children without Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). It measures your child’s performance on several communication, language, and social skills benchmarks and gives an approximate developmental age for each skill. This information is useful in determining individualized goals and objectives. The Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP) also includes a Barriers Assessment that identifies behavioral challenges, and a Transition Assessment that helps the team determine the least restrictive environment for learning to take place. Administered annually or biannually, the VB-MAPP serves as a benchmark to gauge the progress your child is making in targeted skill areas.
ESSENTIAL FOR LIVING
Essential for Living is a communication, behavior, and functional skills assessment, curriculum, and skill-tracking instrument for both children and adults with moderate-to-severe disabilities. It is especially useful for learners with limited communication repertoires, minimal daily living skills, or severe problem-behavior. This instrument is based on concepts, principles, and empirically-validated procedures from Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and from B. F. Skinner's ground-breaking analysis of verbal behavior (Skinner, 1957). Essential for Living is both an assessment and a curriculum, it is used to determine the current performance level of each child or adult with respect to skills that are part of the instrument, in other words, to conduct a curriculum-based assessment. This instrument is also used to develop appropriate goals, and objectives for individual education or support plans and to track skill acquisition and problem behavior. Essential for Living is not a developmental instrument and it is neither age, nor grade-referenced. That is, it does not include skills arranged in an order in which they are often acquired by typically developing children, and sets of skills within in this order are not categorized by age or grade.
Creating the Behavioral Treatment Plan
After your child is assessed, our Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) will create an individual treatment plan. The plan is implemented by a RBT, who is supervised by a BCBA. The RBT also collects data to evaluate the plan’s effectiveness. We set up a feedback loop based on ongoing data evaluation and periodic assessments, so that your child’s plan can be modified to ensure the intervention is maximally effective. This is particularly important in cases where a child does not show progress in any of the plan’s elements.
Treatment plan elements may include, but are not limited to:
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Principles
Discrete Trials Training
Incidental Teaching/Natural Environment Teaching
Positive Behavior Support
Sign Language/or Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)