Learn more about Applied Behavior Analysis and how Omega Center for Autism uses it to help children and families!
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
Applied Behavior Analysis is the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning and to improve socially significant behaviors to a degree that makes a difference to the families affected.
"Socially significant behaviors" include reading, academics, social skills, communication, adaptive living skills such as gross and fine motor skills, toielting, dressing, and self-control.
There are numerous scientific data that proves ABA is the most effective treatment for children with autism and related disabilities. It has also been shown to help with improvements in typical children.
Omega Center for Autism, Inc. prides itself applying all of these in evidence based strategies that will provide success to every child we affect.
What Does ABA Intervention Involve?
Effective ABA intervention for autism is not a "one size fits all" approach and should never be viewed as a "canned" set of programs or drills. On the contrary, a skilled therapist customizes the intervention to each learner's skills, needs, interests, preferences and family situation. For these reasons, an ABA program for one learner will look different than a program for another learner. That said, quality ABA programs for learners with autism have the following in common:
Planning and Ongoing Assessment
* A qualified and trained behavior analyst designs and directly oversees the intervention.
* The analyst’s development of treatment goals stems from a detailed assessment of each learner's skills and preferences and may also include family goals.
* Treatment goals and instruction are developmentally appropriate and target a broad range of skill areas such as communication, sociability, self-care, play and leisure, motor development and academic skills.
* Goals emphasize skills that will enable learners to become independent and successful in both the short and long terms.
* The instruction plan breaks down desired skills into manageable steps to be taught from the simplest (e.g. imitating single sounds) to the more complex (e.g. carrying on a conversation).
* The intervention involves ongoing objective measurement of the learner’s progress.
* The behavior analyst frequently reviews information on the learner’s progress and uses this to adjust procedures and goals as needed.
* The analyst meets regularly with family members and program staff to plan ahead, review progress and make adjustments as needed.
Verbal Behavior Therapy
Verbal Behavior Therapy teaches communication using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and the theories of behaviorist B.F. Skinner. By design, Verbal Behavior Therapy motivates a child, adolescent or adult to learn language by connecting words with their purposes. The student learns that words can help obtain desired objects or other results.
Therapy avoids focusing on words as mere labels (cat, car, etc.) Rather, the student learns how to use language to make requests and communicate ideas. To put it another way, this intervention focuses on understanding why we use words.
Skills Developed Using Verbal Behavior
The Verbal Behavior intervention works on developing communication skills, including receptive and expressive language across the verbal operants of mand (requesting), tact (labeling), echoics (vocal imitation) and intraverbal (conversational skills). Learning across the operants also includes working on gross and fine motor imitation, textual (writing) and listening (following instructions) skills.
Benefits of Using Verbal Behavior
Verbal Behavior is a great approach that can be combined with other teaching methods such as Discrete Trial Training (DTT) or Natural Environment Training (NET). In fact, combining the total operants of Verbal Behavior across both DTT and NET may contribute to acquiring a more complete language repertoire (Sundberg & Michael, 2001). Children need the functional skills across the verbal operants to increase verbal behavior, particularly in environments with their peers (Sundberg & Michael, 2001). A child without strong intraverbal skills may not interact appropriately in response to their peers’ verbal behavior, which may weaken further interactions.
Natural Environment Training (NET)
Natural Environment Training (NET) was developed by Drs. Sundberg & Partington and based on Skinner's Verbal Behavior (1957.) Teaching in the NET requires the therapist to focus on the child's immediate interests and activities as a guide to their language instruction. It is conducted in a typical daily environment, not in a formal teaching arrangement. This type of training allows for more manding (requesting) opportunities, reduces the need for intricate generalization procedures and promotes more spontaneous verbal behavior. The child may also exhibit fewer negative behaviors because of the focus on motivation and the use of consequences more directly related to that motivation (Hall & Sundberg, 1987; Koegal, Koegal, & Surratt, 1992; Stafford, Sundberg, & Braam, 1988).
The above approaches and more will be applied to create the most comprehensive ABA program for child!