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What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)?

Posted on January 12, 2019 at 8:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a science.  It applies the principles of behavior to improve socially significant behavior.  Determining the functions of behavior (or the reason[s] why the behavior occurs) allows behavior change agents to identify intervention packages to improve those behaviors that will enhance the person, team, and/or business behavior(s).

What is behavior? Human behavior includes everything that people do.  Behavior can be something you want to see happen more or less.

What are socially significant behaviors? Behaviors that are appropriate, acceptable, and important. When significant changes are made in these and collateral behaviors, it is to a meaningful degree.  It has importance to the person, caregivers, and/or stakeholders involved.

Different applications of ABA: Many people have heard of ABA in the context of therapy for children with Autism.  However, ABA encompasses much more than treatment for children with Autism.  ABA has a research base in the fields of Health and Fitness, Gerontology, Addictions Therapy, Trauma Based Care, and Big Business (to name a few).

To read more about ABA applications in business, check out our blog on Organizational Behavior Management.

References

Baer, D., Wolf, M., & Risley, T. (1968). Some current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1, 91-97.

Cooper, J., Heron, T., & Heward, W. (2007). Applied Behavior Analysis (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Prentice Hall

Daniels, A. & Bailey, J. (2014). Performance Management. Atlanta, GA: Aubrey Daniels International, Inc.

Fisher, W., Piazza, C. & Roane, H. (2011). Handbook of Applied Behavior Analysis. New York: Guilford Press


 



What We Don't Know about Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Posted on August 24, 2017 at 10:10 AM Comments comments (0)


Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is primarily known as the research-based treatment for individuals with Autism.  Many people believe that ABA is discrete trial teaching (DTT).  DTT is one of the many components of ABA.  However, there are a vast array of principles and procedures that fall under the umbrella of ABA.  In the following blog, programming pivotal behaviors (i.e.: self-initiation, self-management) is discussed.   Rather than working on specific targets or things to teach, programming pivotal behaviors (wide area of functioning) will produce greater effects.  When teaching learners to increase motivation, self-initiate, or self-manage, educating across behaviors instead of teaching a discrete skill can produce acquisition, mastery, and generalization at a faster rate. 


To do this: Utilize natural reinforcement (occurs directly as a result of the behavior emitted [student studies hard and pays attention in class-natural reinforcement=get good grades]) Intersperse mastery trials (make learners successful by reviewing known targets) Use learner-selected materials (Allow the learner to choose writing utensils, actual materials to create/make, etc.) Teach learner-initiated responses (What does the student want to learn about?) Motivation is described as observable individual responding that shows an increased reaction to social and environmental situations. Simply, the learner's affect, interest, enthusiasm, and happiness increases. Self-initiated learning increases spontaneous interactions by teaching the learner to initiate question asking, which makes the learner viewed as socially appropriate.  Self-management or monitoring gives the learner a sense of responsibility for his/her actions which increases self-esteem.  A benefit of self-monitoring is that no one else is needed to observe the learner or reinforce her/him.


How to teach Pivotal Behaviors: Give the learner choice in teaching interactions.  This will decrease disruptive behaviors and increase adaptive behaviors (i.e.: time on task).  For instance, where will the teaching be completed, what materials will be used, etc.  If the learner is unable to make a choice without options, offer them a forced choice (between two plausible options).  This can be done verbally, with pictures, or in written format. Vary hard or teaching tasks with familiar, easy tasks.  Motivation decreases because of repeated failures.  Make learners successful by having them respond correctly.  This increases the probability that they will be successful with the teaching task.  This is called building behavior momentum.  Vary task size.  If a task is difficult, teach it in steps to make the child successful.  This will decrease frustration and build on the skills he/she currently has.  Modify the pace of teaching.  Quick instruction is much more likely to be successful than long, and what becomes boring, tasks. Reinforce all attempts of what you are teaching.  This will improve the learner???s responsiveness during social interactions.  Use enthusiastic praise!  The power of praise is highly undervalued. Natural reinforcement is directly related to the task being taught.  Natural reinforcement increases motivation and rate of learning.  For instance, if the learner requests that a peer plays a board game (being a board game that the learner enjoys); it is naturally reinforced when the peer and learner play. Priming through practice.  Have the learner practice or role play at home to help with social interactions at school or in the community.  This increases generalization (being able to perform at home, school, and in the community with different people and in dissimilar situations).


References

Cooper, J., Heron, T., & Heward, W. (2007). Applied Behavior Analysis (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Koegel, R.L., Koegel, L. K., & Carter, C. M. (1999). Pivotal teaching interactions for children with Autism. School Psychology Review, 28(3), 576-594.

Pivotal Behaviors: Teaching Children Across Behaviors

Posted on August 19, 2017 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (0)


Rather than working on specific targets or things to teach, programming pivotal behaviors (wide area of functioning) will produce greater effects. When teaching students to increase motivation, self-initiate, or self-manage, educating across behaviors instead of teaching a discrete skill can produce acquisition, mastery, and generalization at a faster rate. To do this, we must utilize natural reinforcement, intersperse mastery trials, use student-selected materials, and teach learner-initiated responses.


Motivation is described as observable student responding that shows an increased reaction to social and environmental situations. Simply, the learner's affect, interest, enthusiasm, and happiness increases.


Self-initiation and Self-management:  Self-initiated learning increases spontaneous interactions by teaching the learner to initiate question asking, which makes the learner viewed as socially appropriate. Self-management or monitoring gives the learner a sense of responsibility for his/her actions which increases self-esteem. A benefit of self-monitoring is that no one else is needed to observe the learner or reinforce them. How to teach Pivotal Behaviors Give the student choice in teaching interactions. This will decrease disruptive behaviors and increase adaptive behaviors (i.e.: time on task). For instance, where will the teaching be completed, what materials will be used, etc. If the student is unable to make a choice without options, offer them a forced choice (between two plausible options). This can be done verbally, with pictures, or written. Vary hard or teaching tasks with familiar, easy tasks. Motivation decreases because of repeated failures.


Make learners successful by having them respond correctly. This increases the probability that they will be successful with the teaching task. This is called building behavior momentum. Vary task size. You may have to teach difficult tasks in steps to make the child successful. This will decrease frustration and build on the skills they currently have. Modify the pace of teaching. Quick instruction is much more likely to be successful than long, and what becomes boring, tasks. Reinforce all attempts of what you are teaching, even if the student responds incorrectly. This will improve the learner's responsiveness during social interactions. Use enthusiastic praise! The power of praise is highly undervalued. Natural reinforcement is directly related to the task being taught. This increases motivation and rate of learning. For instance, if the learner requests that a peer plays a board game (being a board game that the learner enjoys); it is naturally reinforced when the peer and learner play. Priming through practice. Have the learner practice or role play at home to help with social interactions at school or in the community. This increases generalization (being able to perform at home, school, and in the community with different people and in dissimilar situations).

Ethics in ABA

Posted on August 18, 2017 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (0)


When engaging in single subject research, the ethical concerns that arise are the cognitive abilities of the client and ability to consent to treatment, that the behaviors that are of concern are observable and predictable, who and where the interventions will be implemented, who gives consent and upholds proper treatment intervention and ethical behavior and what outcomes are expected.


When working with children and applying the principles and procedures of behavior, it is essential that operational definitions and functions of behaviors are determined. Behaviors may or may not occur in various settings. Therefore, wherever the behavior is exhibited is where the intervention needs to take place (i.e.: if it happens at school, home and in the community, the intervention needs to take place in all 3 places).


Behavior change will only be effective if the behavior is dealt with and consequated on all occasions. Otherwise, there is the possibility that intermittent reinforcement will make extinguishing behavior more difficult. Making sure the integrity of the behavior intervention plan is upheld and ethical is essential in maintaining the efficacy of ABA.


Determining outcomes is pertinent in deciding when mastery has been met or when the behavior has changed to an acceptable level (i.e.: when to move on or fade the intervention). Exploring alternative interventions prior to selecting aversives is essential in upholding the social and empirical validity of treatment as they are punishment and may produce an extinction burst (i.e.: the behavior gets worse before it gets better) and the development of a more serious and intense behavior (i.e.: the original behavior is screaming and after using an aversive, biting oneself causing tissue damage).


Another essential ethical consideration is those implementing the intervention should be properly trained and comfortable with the procedures. Not only do the interventionists need to have an understanding of why the programs are in place, but they need to consistently implement the procedures effectively. If there are alterations or improper procedures being utilized, the behavior may not be changed effectively. The targeted behavior may actually be intermittently reinforced which will make it that much more difficult to modify.


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