Applied Behavior Analysis is a science of behavioral psychology in which a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) analyzes behavior(s) of an individual, then applies researched evidenced based practices with them. So, how do we do this with language, social skills, learning to learn skills, problematic behavior, and daily living skills.
Language skills are broken down into several sections of language based upon how and why we use them. For example, we use requesting at the beginning of our development of language to get our wants and needs met. Without this form of language, problematic behaviors often occur in children with Autism as this is their only way to make their wants and needs known to others. (Ex. Child cries at the fridge until you pull out the drink that they want).
After learning to request, we often learn to follow directions and instructions using non-verbal language. (Ex. Come here and sit down) For this area of language, the child does not have to speak for a response. Thus, this part of language may develop in those who have limited to non verbal communication. However, without verbal communication a child is unable to communicate with others including other children.
This is where labeling comes into play and is such an important part of development. We learn to label things (Ex. That’s mommy, My doggy, etc…) that develops our vocabulary and ability to speak verbally outside of requesting items. Finally, we develop that ability to answer questions and use more advanced verbal language (Ex. I like it because it is fun for me) including adjectives, adverbs, verbs, etc
While teaching language, especially language needed for social interaction we teach social skills that the child will need (Ex. Hi, my name is _____, Let’s play on the swings, etc..) Keep in mind that the majority of social skills for a child is verbal in nature, so without it the task of social skills becomes quite restricted. By breaking down social skills in their development sequence, we teach them one at a time in line with language development. Prompting and reinforcement are often needed in order to teach these skills. This should only be done by therapists and clinicians that are highly trained and experienced in this area as social skills are quite complex. Keep in mind that social skills are typically taught by the speech therapist for example as they require so many verbal skills.
As we develop language and social skills, we have to develop learning to learn skills to prepare children to succeed within a group or classroom environment. These skills consist of many skills that many children learn on their own, but have to often be taught to children with Autism. (Ex. Raise hand, wait to be called on and know the answer when called). Whether it is learning to line up or complete and turn in a worksheet, these skills are broken down and taught in developmentally appropriate sequences for each child based upon their individual needs and skill levels.
Problematic behavior is like a hurdle to all of these areas of skills. If a child is exhibiting problem behavior, they are not learning any other skills. (Ex. you cannot work on social skills or language when screaming or tantruming). So, problematic behaviors have to be greatly reduced or eliminated in order to allow your child to be successful in these other areas. Please note that only highly trained therapists and clinicians such as Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) should treat problematic behaviors.
Daily living skills are an essential part of a child’s success in life and can be helpful to create independence in your child. (Ex. learning to go potty, brush their own teeth, get a haircut, etc..) These skills are often comprised of multiple steps such as all the small parts of tying your shoes. In addition, it is essential that a child can do these skills in any environment or situation. For example, your child should be able to tie their shoes of any type of shoes at any place and at any time.
We encourage you to learn more about how ABA addresses all of these skill areas, so contact us today to find out more about how we may serve you and your child.