What is Applied Behavior Analysis?
ABA works under the assumption that people engage in behavior due to the consequence of that behavior. Typically, behaviors occur because, in the past, they have been reinforced by escape, attention, access to an object, or a self-stimulatory effect.
How does it work?
At B.A.S.I.C.S. ABA Therapy, LLC, we assume that any behavior is getting a need met. If the behavior is ineffective/inappropriate, we would follow these steps:
1. We determine what the need is
2. We teach the child a new way to get the need met
3. We no longer allow the child to get the need met in the inappropriate way
4. We teach any missing foundational skills.
For example, Fabio is given a math assignment. He rips the math assignment and screams “No!” In the past, Fabio has been sent to time out. In this instance, it appears that Fabio is ripping his math work so he does not have to do the math. So, we would follow the above protocol:
1. We determine that the behavior is maintained by “escape”. By sending him to time out, he is escaping math work.
2. In therapy, we would teach Fabio to ask for a break (it may be a visual card, a gesture, or a calm verbal request) so he can escape the work when he needs to.
3. We would ensure that staff had extra math sheets to replace the ones Fabio destroys. We would continue to represent the math sheets until Fabio asked appropriately for a break or completed the work. (This would be approached using different levels of support depending on the needs of the child)
4. We would create programming to teach the math skills and tolerance for difficult tasks to deal with the underlying issue.
When we identify that a child needs to improve on a skill-set, we break that skill into small parts and teach each piece individually. Once the pieces are mastered, we move onto the next skill.
For example, if 5 year old Sarah is having trouble making friends at the park, we would break the play skills into small parts.
1. We might teach Sarah to imitate us when we move (this is how most play starts at age 5)
2. We might teach Sarah the steps of a game like tag
3. We might pair her favorite activities with the new games to improve their appeal
4. We might teach her game playing rules (turn taking, choosing who goes first, etc)
5. We might teach her a conversation script to initiate play and how to respond if someone asks her to play
Once she is making progress on these goals, we would encourage her to play with a sibling or a parent or a safe adult. After that is mastered, we would help her implement the skills at the playground.
How do you know it is working?
ABA is data based. We record the percent of correct responses for each activity we teach. This data is uploaded to the student's portal and it is frequently monitored by a supervisor. We can visually track progress on every skill that we are teaching. If there is no progress on a goal, we problem-solve the teaching strategy until we see progress.