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Friday, May 9, 2008

What is ABA?

ABA – Applied Behaviour Analysis.

An approach to teaching which emphasises positive reinforcement and is underpinned with observation and monitoring: interactive and child-centred

What is ABA?

ABA is the comprehensive application of scientific principles, such as reinforcement, to developing skills and promoting positive behaviour and learning. Specific teaching strategies, programmes and other interventions are individually tailored and adapted.

With ABA a child works on a number of individual target items determined by an assessment of their individual learning needs. Targets can range from learning-to-learn skills such as sitting and attending, early learning skills such as being able to match a colour, letter or number, through to more complex academic skills such as abstract reasoning. Individualised programming will include functional and daily living skills in addition to academic skills.

The aim is always to maximise children's ability and desire to learn.

Motivation (reinforcement) for the children is the key.

Reinforcement is something that follows a response, which increases the likelihood of that response occurring again.

In other words, when the child responds accurately or appropriately, we reinforce this positively, for example by giving verbal praise or time with a preferred toy or activity.

Token systems are also used to teach children to cope with a delay before getting a reinforcer.

If you watch a child with autism being taught according to the principles of ABA, you should see an intensive, interactive approach (often one-to-one) designed first to teach basic learning skills and then to encourage motivation to learn more advanced skills. Any aspects of learning that the child finds hard are broken down into small, achievable steps, and are then presented in a simple and consistent way. This approach pays particular attention to the careful reinforcement of a child's achievements and close monitoring of each child's progress, underpinned by precise data collection and observation.

People often think that ABA programmes are only used in the home and for pre-school aged children. For example, the form of ABA known as the Lovaas method was developed for home-based pre-school teaching. However, there are other applications of ABA, for example Verbal Behaviour, which are used both at home and in school settings, and not just for young children with autism.

Decisions about the most appropriate type of ABA approach for a child will be based on the needs of the children and their families. A 'good' ABA approach will place a lot of emphasis on enabling children to translate their learning into new situations and in providing parents with the skills to respond to their child's communication, social and behaviour needs.