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Understanding ABA. Presented by Jerrianne Anastos Sponsored by Merrimack School District and Merrimack Special Education Parent Support Group. What is ABA and why use this approach?.
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Understanding ABA Presented by Jerrianne Anastos Sponsored by Merrimack School District and Merrimack Special Education Parent Support Group
What is ABA and why use this approach? • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) - When the principles of the pure science of behavior analysis, i.e. reinforcement, are used to teach (or applied in any setting), this practice is called "Applied Behavior Analysis". The science is one thing, made up of these principles of behavior, while the applied science is another, made up of strategies based on those principles. ABA studies the relationship between a person’s behavior (communication, how s/he acts) and the person’s environment (items, people, what is said or done). • ABA uses specific principles to change behavior such as teaching adaptive behaviors and reducing inappropriate behaviors.
Pioneered by B.F. Skinner, ABA is currently the only research-based treatment recognized by the U.S. Surgeon General and American Academy of Pediatrics for children with autism. • The use of Applied Behavior Analysis emphasizes the teaching of important, socially-significant skills, including communication, social skills, reading, writing, mathematics, gross and fine motor skills, and daily living skills. • ABA strategies can be used in all settings, whether in a 1:1 setting, or with small or large groups.
It can be incorporated into the most structured teaching task or informal play date. • ABA techniques can be taught to and used by anyone, including parents, siblings, and peers.
Characteristics of ABA: Seven primary characteristics of the practice of ABA are: • Behavior must be important to the subject or society • Behavior chosen for study must be in need of improvement and be measurable • Demonstrated functional relationship and believability • Explicit description, clear procedures • Interventions are derived from basic principles of behavior change • Behavior change is meaningful to person changing and others • Behavior change lasts over time and appears in other environments (From: Cooper, Heron, Heward (1987) Applied Behavior Analysis)
The General Methods of ABAinclude: • Use of effective assessment procedures to determine which skills need to be taught • Analyzing those skills, breaking them down into teachable components (task analysis) and teaching them in a specific order to build repertoires of meaningful behaviors • Use of reinforcement to teach those skills and motivate the learner
Teaching skills to mastery and fluency, such that the skills are then used effectively, correctly, quickly, and consistently across people, materials and environments • Individualization of prompting procedures and systematic fading of prompts to maximize success for the learner • Collection and analysis of data as the primary method for evaluating and documenting success.
The Basic Principles of ABA: The Three Term Contingency, “A-B-C” • A= Antecedents (What is happening before the behavior occurs) • B= Behavior (The behavior of interest - target behavior) • C= Consequences (What happened immediately following the behavior) • A and C can be effectively manipulated to produce a change in B!
Reinforcement- always INCREASES the rate of the behavior • Positive Reinforcement- occurs when a behavior is followed immediately by the presentation, or addition, ofa stimulus (reinforcer) and as a result, the behavior occurs more often in the future. Example: John cleans up his toys, Mom allows him to watch his favorite DVD; Mark exceeds sales quota at work, receives cash bonus • Negative Reinforcement- occurs when certain stimuli increase the future probability of behavior when they are terminated or removed immediately following a response. Example: John hates to eat green beans, his mother says, “Just one bite”, John eats one bite and his mom takes away the rest of the beans, telling him, “Good job, you’re all done”!; Billy dislikes when his mother nags him to do the dishes. He starts to do the dishes immediately after dinner to avoid the nagging.
Punishment- always DECREASES the rate of behavior • Like reinforcement, a stimulus can be added (positive punishment) or removed (negative punishment). Examples: During a meeting or while in class, your cell phone starts ringing, you are lectured on why it is not okay to have your phone on (positive punishment); Siblings get in a fight over who gets to go first in a game or who gets to play with a new toy, the parent takes the game/toy away (negative punishment)
Guidelines for use and a word of caution: • Punishment in practice can often result in unwanted side effects, and should be used only after reinforcement-only procedures have failed to work. • Unwanted side effects can include the increase in other unwanted behavior (i.e. escape and avoidance, emotional behavior) as well as a decrease in desired behaviors.
Extinction- withholding/discontinuing reinforcement of a previously reinforced behavior, resulting in the decrease of that behavior. It is preferably combined with reinforcement of a more appropriate, acceptable alternative behavior. Examples- ignoring a screaming child who wants candy; not removing a task/activity as a result of child’s misbehavior
Measuring Behavior- Data are collected within an ABA program for multiple purposes: • Data informs the decision making process. • Data are taken to document both the acquisition of skills and improvement in challenging behaviors. • Data provides a more concrete and visual measurement of behavior
ABA Teaching Formats Common formats used to provide ABA instruction include: • Discrete Trial Training • Incidental or Natural Environment Teaching
Discrete Trial Training- a teaching strategy that breaks down learning a new skill into a 3-part learning unit. Each trial is a teaching opportunity that involves a cue, a response from the child, and a reaction or consequence from the teacher.
Explanation: Early learners need skills broken down into the simplest components and a way to quickly practice a skill many times. Teachers, clinicians, and other instructors also need a way to easily track the child’s progress. Discrete trial training can help to compensate for challenges faced by many students with skill delays (i.e. comprehension, attention, motivation), and is beneficial for them for the following reasons: • In discrete trial training, tasks are broken-down into short, simple trials • Discrete trial training builds motivation by rewarding performance of desired behavior and completion of tasks with tangible (i.e. edibles) or external reinforcement. • Stimuli presented in discrete trial training are clear and relatively consistent. The child is given rewards only for behaviors in response to those stimuli. • Discrete trial training teaches skills and behaviors explicitly (cause-effect learning). • The instructions given in discrete trial training are simple, concrete, and clearly provide only the most salient information. • Example- Instructor says, “Clap your hands”, student claps hands, instructor says, “Great clapping” and gives student an edible, token, or similar tangible reinforcing item, trial ends
Guidelines • Progress is closely monitored by continuously collecting and analyzing child performance data. • Changes in instruction occur as a function of child performance data. • Newly mastered skills are reviewed to ensure retention. • Newly mastered skills are adapted to ensure the generalization of skills across persons, materials, and locations. • Skills are practiced and expanded in progressively less structured settings and more natural situations to ensure generalization • Skills are developed in a hierarchal manner
Incidental or Natural Environment Teaching- provides structured learning opportunities in the natural environment by using the child’s interests and natural motivation. With incidental teaching, the focus is on following the child’s interests within naturally occurring, daily activities.
Explanation: Many different skills can be identified and taught throughout the day in the natural environment, i.e. instructors or parents may point to pictures in a book and ask the child to label the pictures or ask them to make requests and/or choices. Incidental teaching involves intentional planning for those situations throughout the day that provide opportunities for teaching. Daily routines that can be used for teaching include meals, dressing, playtime, car trips, watching TV, and listening to music. Research has shown incidental teaching to be effective for individuals of all ages and disabilities. • Example: John’s teacher knows that John enjoys puzzles, while her objective is to teach Joshua how to label the letters of the alphabet. She finds a puzzle with letters of the alphabet, and during activity time, places the puzzle on a table in a clear container that John is unable to open. John shows interest in the puzzle by attempting to open the bin, and thus initiates the teaching session.
Guidelines • Allow adequate time to attend to child initiations, difficult if you are rushed • Use incidental teaching to develop language and social skills when the child wants something such as food, an activity, a toy, attention or help. Naturally reinforce the request by giving the item requested (e.g., the ball). • Incidental teaching should be relatively brief and enjoyable. If a situation becomes lengthy or unpleasant, stop and redirect to another activity. • Preplan the times during the day when you will use incidental teaching, i.e. Center time, a community outing. Think about how you can teach language and concepts during this time, i.e. color identification, object identification, choice, greetings. • Start small and set a goal, i.e. identify and use 3-4 teaching opportunities daily. If incidental teaching is used regularly, it becomes more natural, even though planning must still be done to ensure instructional goals are met.
Challenging Behavior(s) What is Behavior? • Anything we do or say constitutes a behavior • Examples: walking, talking, eating, sleeping, playing, working • Behaviors are acquired (learned) and maintained throughout our lives through daily interaction with our environment and other people
Assumptions About Behavior • Behaviors are all functional, purposeful, and meaningful • Often behaviors serve as a means to communicate • Behavior occurs because it “works” • Behavior is changed by changing the things that come before and after it • Behavior change in children involves behavior change in adults
Explanation: Problem or maladaptive behaviors, like all behavior, serve a function or purpose. The function must be hypothesized prior to designing a plan for intervention. Failure to base the intervention on the specific cause (function) very often results in ineffective and unnecessarily restrictive procedures. Behavioral functions fall into 5 categories: • Attention • Access to objects and activities • Escape / avoidance • Automatic reinforcement (self-stimulation) • Sometimes more than one function is at work at a time
Examples of when a Problem Behavior May Occur • When working on a demanding task • When access to items or activities is denied • When adult attention is not focused on the child • When the environment is unstructured or under-enriched • When the child is bored and doesn’t know what to do with self
Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA):A functional behavior assessment involves procedures used to identify the causes of maladaptive behaviors and creating a plan to address the behaviors. It is important to record data before the plan is implemented, as well as after implementation to ensure the plan is effective.
Functional Communication Training- FCT involves identifying the function or purpose of a child’s challenging behavior (i.e. hitting, screaming, taking toys away from others) via an FBA, and subsequently identifying and teaching an appropriate, or replacement, behavior that will serve the same purpose for the child. Explanation: FCT requires that a functional behavioral assessment first be conducted by a qualified professional to identify the function of the child’s challenging behavior (i.e. getting attention or escaping from an activity). After the function or purpose of the challenging behavior has been identified, a more desirable or acceptable form of is identified as a replacement. The replacement behavior can involve speech, gestures, signs, or pictures appropriate to the child’s developmental level.
Guidelines for choosing a replacement behavior, or new form of communication: • should be something that the child is capable of doing • can be taught easily • will be easily noticed and acknowledged when the child uses it • works as or more effectively than the problem behavior • Once a replacement behavior is selected, FCT involves ignoring the challenging behavior (extinction) and prompting and reinforcing the use of the replacement behavior. *Note: A well-trained behavior analyst or someone with a high degree of training and experience is required for the completion of an FBA