FAQ's on ABA
Welcome parents! We are here to help. This resource page is specifically intended to provide you with beneficial information to support you in helping your child.
At A Core Connection, our mission is to strengthened our community and improve the lives of our clients by delivering excellent behavioral health services tailored to meet their needs. We do this by providing information to questions that parents frequently ask.
What is ABA?
Applied Behavior Analysis is a method of teaching based on the premise that speech, academics and life skills can be taught using scientific principles.
ABA is based on the 20th-century work of B.F. Skinner. In 1938, Skinner published The Behavior of Organisms, which described the process of learning through the consequences of behavior. Later applications of his approach to education and socially significant behavior led to what we now call Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).
ABA rewards, or reinforces, appropriate behaviors and responses because children are less likely to continue those behaviors that are not rewarded. Over time, reinforcement is reduced so that the child can learn without constant rewards.
Research shows that children with autism respond to ABA intervention Lovaas (1987) Sallows & Graupner (2005)). Skills are disassembled into their smallest components, so that the children learn to master simple skills, then build toward more complicated skills.
Skinner’s 1957 book, Verbal Behavior, focused on the functional analysis of verbal behavior, and led to significant research by Applied Behavior Analysts, including Dr. Jim Partington. This research can be found in the journal, The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, and serves as the foundation for teaching Verbal Behavior as part of an ABA program.
Applied Verbal Behavior is ABA with a focus on Verbal Behavior, and the application of ABA in teaching verbal behavior.
Doesn’t ABA only work with young children?
Many people mistakenly believe that ABA teaching methodology is only useful for young children. They may have a limited view of this methodology simply because they’ve only seen it being used with young children. They may have seen a child sitting at a table with a therapist working on learning skills. However, the teaching methods are actually very effective in teaching a wide range of skills to individuals of all ages and all levels of intellectual functioning. These teaching methods can be used to teach skills at any location in the home, school, or community (e.g., at the park, in stores, work settings, etc.). In essence, ABA is an effective method to teach anyone skills.
Does ABA only work on children with Autism?
No Way! ABA can be effective with typically developing children that may be experiencing behavior problems.
Can ABA help with my child’s disruptive behavior?
Behaviors can definitely get in the way of successful learning. If you have behavior concerns with your child we can show you how to reinforce the positive behaviors while working on decreasing the negative behaviors. A few examples of the behavior concerns are: getting the child to walk nicely, changes in routine, meal time issues, climbing, etc. It is important to understand the problem behavior and the motivation behind it.
How can I get my child to listen to me and follow instructions?
Once you have the basic skills for good teaching, such as ensuring the child is attending, presenting clear instructions, reinforcing the correct responses and just making learning fun; your child will listen and follow instructions!
What is Verbal Behavior (VB)? Why is VB so important?
Verbal Behavior is a theory from B.F. Skinner, which uses the principles of ABA to teach communication. Children learn that their words can let them gain access to items they need or want. Verbal Behavior is made up of 4 operants (word types) including: mands (requests), tacts (labels), echoics (echoed or repeated sounds or words) and intraverbals (back and forth communication).
Verbal Behavior is an intervention for children to learn to effectively communicate and socially interact with others. It is necessary for an individual to understand and use language skills. Specifically, an individual must be able to understand what others are saying (receptive skills), be able to express their desires and observations, as well as be able to talk about their experiences (expressive skills).
Skinner’s 1957 book, Verbal Behavior, regarding the functional analysis of verbal behavior, has led to significant research by Applied Behavior Analysts, including Dr. James Partington. This research can be found in the journal, The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, and serves as the foundation for teaching Verbal Behavior as part of an ABA program.
My child just received an autism diagnosis. Where do I start? What can I do to help my child?
You undoubtedly have many concerns about what to do, who can help you and why your child is not learning at the same rate as other children. The main thing to realize is that the diagnosis indicates that the child is not developing skills at the same rate as typically developing children. You may never know why that is the case, but there are steps that you can take to help him try to catch up with his peers. The most important step involves identifying which skills you can teach him, starting today. You can do a great deal to help your child! Creating a plan to help your child succeed and develop is vital to both your child’s development and providing your entire family with an improved quality of life.
Does the diagnosis ever go away? Is there hope for my child?
Let’s start by answering this question by realizing that every child with an autism diagnosis is different. Some children who have received several years of early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) starting around two to three years of age have gone on to kindergarten as a regular education student and have gone on to lead typical lives. However, it is important to realize that while all children will benefit from interventions, more than half of the children diagnosed with autism will still require some level of special education services. Even if the services start when the child is a little older, good teaching can result in considerable improvement in the child’s development. So, there is hope for your child!
What can I do to help my child reach his potential?
The best place to start is by educating yourself on methods to help your child learn new skills. The most important thing you can do is to establish a plan to teach your child critical skills. You will need to identify your child’s specific skills and skill deficits and then strategically identify the skills that he needs to be taught at this moment. Many people, including teachers, often make mistakes by selecting inappropriate skills to teach. Selecting the correct, developmentally-appropriate learning targets is crucial.
What type of program has been shown to be effective in treating autism?
There are many different approaches to autism treatment. Before deciding on which approach to take, it is important to review the research of the outcomes of specific interventions. Before being persuaded by people with great heart-warming stories about their intervention methods, ask to see their data. Too many times parents are encouraged to begin interventions that sound promising, but haven’t been demonstrated to have the best outcomes. Please ask to see outcome data!
The most effective, evidence-based treatment for individuals on the Autism Spectrum is based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). This approach utilizes specific teaching strategies to develop new skills. When intensively provided to children at a very early age, it has been demonstrated to result in some children being able to lead a normal life. (See research articles by Lovaas (1987), and Sallows & Graupner (2005)).
Shouldn’t I try every treatment possible?
Because there are not any definitive reasons for why children on the autism spectrum are not developing in a typical manner, there are many potential types of interventions that might help the child. Many people try a wide range of interventions in hopes that they will stumble upon THE ONE THING that will help their child (applying essential oils, feeding them a certain diet, various types of physical, auditory, and other types of sensory stimulation). We know that good intensive behaviorally-based teaching is effective. So, rather than trying many non-evidenced based interventions, it is best to devote time to implementing what has been proven to be effective (Howard, et. Al 2005).
Should I wait to start an educational program until all the medical issues have been resolved?
Many parents attempt to try to solve potential medical issues to see if that will help their child before they begin an educational intervention. They often hope that if they can find the right pill or other medical treatment, the diagnosis may go away. Clearly, there are biological factors that may be involved and any obvious medical conditions should be addressed. However, time passes by very quickly, you should not wait to start teaching skills. You can check for medical issues while working on learning at the same time!
What skills does my child need to learn?
The answer to that question depends upon the age and the skills of the learner. For younger children, it is important to teach them basic language and learner skills (such as imitation, paying attention to visual aspects of items, etc.), and self-help and motor skills. For older individuals, there is often a need to shift the focus to functional living skills.
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If you have additional questions or would like guidance regarding a particular topic, please don’t hesitate to contact us.