Science of ABA
Applied Behavior Analysis
Applied Behavior Analysis systematically applies behavioral intervention techniques coupled with a functional analysis of environmental factors to determine the relationship between the individual and their environment to develop, maintain or restore the functioning of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (BACB Inc., 2012). Individuals diagnosed with Autism may often experience and display ritualistic or challenging behaviors including self-injurious behaviors that interfere with activities of daily living. ABA techniques are the recommended treatment of choice intended to produce changes in the individual's behavior with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Challenging behaviors can include aggression, pica, and self-injurious behaviors such as destruction of property, self-harm or harm to others (Matson, 2011).
The functional analysis of ABA explicitly identifies the antecedent stimuli and the consequence associated with the relationship between the environment and the individual's behavior. ABA applies positive reinforcement techniques to teach and train adaptive and desirable behaviors. The goal of ABA is to specifically target behaviors and to apply specific behavioral techniques to eliminate severe behaviors (e.g., self-injurious behaviors, violent behaviors), teach new skills and maintain adaptive behaviors in his/her natural settings (e.g., home, school). ABA programs are intensive and tailored programs for the individual receiving treatment which is why the treatment format is one-to-one and face-to-face.
ABA is a behavioral treatment and should not be considered the Early Intervention Program for developmental delays. Early Intervention Programs may have a behavioral component and members may receive behavioral consultations within these programs, however, these programs are not considered Applied Behavior Analysis.
Discrete Trial Training
Discrete Trial Training (DTT) is a specific method of teaching based on the principles of ABA. DTT breaks down skills into discrete steps and provides multiple opportunities to practice each skill. Through the use of prompting and reinforcement, children learn individual skills and then the ability to combine these skills into more complex repertoires. Research has proven that DTT is an effective method of teaching various skills to children with autism and related disorders.
Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS)
Children with autism and related disorders often have delays in their ability to communicate and develop expressive language. Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) offers an alternative means of communication through the use of visuals. Parents and children are taught in stages how to initiate requests and develop more complex language. PECS is often used with children that have a limited vocal repertoire and helps children increase interest in initiating communication and develop the means to communicate with others.
Research has shown that children with autism have difficulty processing auditory information. In a world that communicates so much information verbally, it is important to utilize the strengths of the children we work with. ATC utilizes visual strategies to promote a child’s understanding and success in addition to reducing frustration when teaching new skills and addressing behavioral excesses.
Pivotal Response Training
Pivotal Response Training (PRT) is a behavioral intervention based on the principles of ABA. By focusing on the two pivotal behaviors such as motivation and responsivity through PRT, we are able to address a larger range of behaviors affecting communication, play, and social skills. PRT is a child directed, naturalistic approach, allowing ATC staff and parents to effectively teach children in a comfortable, less structured format.
Social Skills Training
For children and adults with autism and related disorders, social interaction is often a challenge. ATC utilizes a social skills curriculum that is based on typical development. This curriculum includes social skills such as joint attention (e.g. referencing others to share enjoyment, pointing to show others something of interest), play skills (e.g. turn taking, pretend play), conversation (e.g. initiating and responding) and understanding social rules (e.g. how to be a good sport). The implementation of this curriculum utilizes ABA methods in the clinic, home, school and community settings. Skills are initially taught in a 1:1 Setting and are generalized to peer dyads and eventually social skills groups.