Applied behaviour analysis abbreviated as ABA is a method to changing socially useful behaviours that employ scientifically recognized doctrines of learning to bring about changes. In accord to children with autism, the behaviours targeted by ABA are those that can have real-life applications for autistic children. Analysts work with real, observable as well as measurable behaviours rather than some abstract diagnosis.
The most critical characteristic of applied behaviour analysis is that decisions made are based on objective data that is collected to help understand what effect, if any, the behavioural interventions being used are essentially having on the behaviour of an autistic child.
Applied behaviour analysis is about providing Australian autistic children an organized environment where they can learn as soon as possible. Interventionists, including parents, staff and teachers help reinforce appropriate behaviours in different settings, including group homes, schools, and homes. ABA is essential in that special emphasis is placed on language, social, academic, and functional life skills. Autistic children are taught how to reduce self-injurious and stereotypic behaviours. Discrete trial teaching, pivotal response training, verbal behaviour, natural environment training and positive behavioural interventions and support are used for applied behaviour analysis.
Applied behaviour analysis is cantered on the fact that behaviours can be increased or decreased based on the reaction the behaviour receives. Particular behaviours that are strengthened in using ABA to treat autism are those considered socially important behaviours. These behaviours include but are not limited to the following: adaptive living skills, communication skills, social skills, educational skills, and literacy. Adaptive living skills in this case include: cleaning, personal care, and motor skills.
Prior to an ABA program, an autistic child undergoes a behavioural assessment. This allows the program to specifically meet the child’s behavioural needs. The behavioural assessment is composed of the following steps: defining the behavioural problem, determining how often the behaviour problem occurs, making notes about when the behaviour occurs, and note the consequences of behaviours.
ABA is objective in that an autistic child’s behaviour is assessed through observations that focus on exactly what the child does, when the child does it, and what happens before and what happens after behaviour. Desired skills that the child does not demonstrate are broken down into small steps. Many opportunities or trials are offered continually in structured training conditions and in the course of everyday activities. Instructions emphasises teaching an autistic child how to learn-to-listen, to watch, and to imitate.
As the child progresses, guidance is analytically reduced so that the child is responding independently. As steps are acquired, the child is trained to combine them in more composite techniques, and to practice them in more situations.
One of the most noteworthy characteristics of applied behaviour analysis is the emphasis placed on parental involvement. Parents are encouraged to carry out aspects of the program at home to help reinforce learned skills and allow for generalization. When conducted at home, daily activities can be made part of the program. As far as ABA is concerned, the autistic child is given a boost toward the desired action.
1) Applied behavioural analysis: http://www.abia.net.au/applied_behavioural_analysis
2) What is ABA?: http://www.autismpartnership.com.au/what_is_aba
3) Training: http://www.abia.net.au/training