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Teaching Life Skills with Task Analysis

Take It Step-By-Step

Time to discuss the details of yet another Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) frequently used in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) by Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs). It’s called Task Analysis. The name might sound complex, but it is actually a rather simple strategy to understand. What Task Analysis entails, is breaking a skill down into sequentially ordered steps, so they can be taught one step at a time. Think of Task Analysis as creating an instruction manual to complete a task.

In our everyday lives, we complete long strings of behaviors in order to accomplish tasks without giving much thought to it. The act of brushing your teeth alone is comprised of a whopping 22 steps or more! Check it out…

  1. Get your toothbrush.
  2. Turn on the faucet.
  3. Get your toothbrush wet.
  4. Turn off the faucet.
  5. Get the toothpaste.
  6. Take the cap off the toothpaste.
  7. Squeeze the toothpaste on the toothbrush.
  8. Put the cap back on toothpaste.
  9. Brush the inside surfaces of your teeth on top and bottom.
  10. Brush the bitting surfaces of your teeth on top and bottom.
  11. Brush the outside surfaces of your teeth on top and bottom.
  12. Spit in the sink.
  13. Brush your tongue.
  14. Turn on the faucet.
  15. Rinse your toothbrush.
  16. Put the toothbrush away.
  17. Grab a cup.
  18. Fill the cup with water.
  19. Rinse your teeth with water.
  20. Spit the water out.
  21. Put the cup away.
  22. Turn off the faucet.

That’s a lot for an individual with autism to take in all at once. Students with autism learn best when they are given small teachable units of information to process one at a time.

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Here are some things to remember when creating a Task Anaysis:

Consistency: Not everyone brushes their teeth in the same way, there is naturally going to be variations to the way a task is completed. The team, consisting of the Behavior Technicians, along with the parents of the child you’re working with, need to agree upon a set procedure for how a task will be performed and write the individual steps down clearly for all to follow.

Tailor-Made: We all have our strengths and weaknesses. When building a task analysis, it is important to consider the skill sets of the child you are working with, this way you know if you need to break steps down into very small sections or if you can group steps together. It will also give you an idea if the skill should be taught starting at the beginning or at the end, and what form of prompting should be used.

Do The Task Yourself: Completing the task yourself while you write your task analysis is very important. You’ll be surprised just how many steps you may leave out unknowingly if you don’t walk through the completion of the steps yourself.

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Discrete Trial Teaching

Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT) was developed by Ivar Lovaas and is an
evidence-based practice (EBP) that has been used as a method of teaching
individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder for more than 40 years. It is the
most widely used and well researched form of Applied Behavior Analysis
(ABA).

For children with autism, learning does not always come easily, nor
naturally from observing the people and environment around them. DTT works
well for children with autism, and all children really, because it takes
a complex skill and breaks it down into small simplified steps. Each step
is taught until it is mastered in a structured way.


 The Discrete Trial Cycle:
It has a distinct beginning, middle and ending. The
three main components are as follows:
 

1) Instruction/ Sd (Discriminative Stimulus)
 
2) Student Response
 
3) Feedback/ SR+ (Reinforcing Stimulus)

Inter-Trial Interval (ITI) – this is the transition or pause of roughly 1-3 seconds before the start of the next Discrete Trial Cycle.


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The first component of DTT, the Sd, is the instruction that
a RBT therapist gives to their student. This can be in the form of words or
actions given that stimulate a behavior to happen. This must be said or
shown clearly, concisely and slightly louder than a normal tone of voice.
It should not involve the student’s name and be too lengthy, especially
with a new student just starting ABA therapy.

The second component, the Response (R), is the behavior of the child that
happens in response to the Sd or instruction given.

The last component is the Feedback/ SR+ given to the child. This is the
consequence that immediately follows the student’s response. If a correct
response is given, the child is given SR+ right away in the form of a food,
praise, a preferred toy or activity, etc. If an incorrect response or no
response is given, the child receives corrective feedback by being
presented with the Sd again and being prompted (P) with the correct answer
immediately prior to the child’s next response.

It is important to deliver a consequence (Feedback/ SR+) after every response so your student becomes aware of which behaviors or responses are correct and incorrect. Giving reinforcement to correct responses will make it likely
the response will occur again.
It’s important to vary your reinforcement.
Highest SR+ for correct responses that include eye contact, focus on the
task and good effort will show the student that this is a behavior to
repeat and therefore learn, because great things happen when I display it.
While, correct responses with poor eye contact, focus and
effort still receives SR+, but at moderate to lower levels.

Here are examples of a Discrete Trial Cycle when a student gives a correct
response and incorrect response.

DTT with CORRECT Response
Materials: 2D images of a ball and bicycle
Sd: “Touch the one you ride on.”
R: Child touches the bicycle picture card.
SR+: “Right on, way to go!” RBT therapist gives lots of tickles.

DTT with INCORRECT or NO Response
Materials: 2D images of a ball and bicycle
Sd: “Touch the one you ride on.”
R: Child looks away, no picture card is touched.
(RBT therapist immediately repeats the Sd and prompts the correct answer)
Sd: “Touch the one you ride on.”
P: Therapist physically prompts the child’s hand to touch the bicycle card, making sure he is looking at the card.
SR+: “That’s right, you ride a bicycle!”
(Follow up with an independent trial)
Sd: “Touch the one you ride on.”
R: Child touches the bicycle picture card
SR+: Fabulous! You got it. RBT therapist gives some tickles.
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Did you enjoy your introduction to DTT teaching? Learn more about this method of teaching children with autism and much more at Autism Therapy Career College. It the inexpensive vocational school that prepares you for a career you’ll love in just 90 days!

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An Autism Friendly Thanksgiving

Gobble Up These Fun Tips from ATCC!

Thanksgiving, a joyous occasion filled with festive foods, loving family and time reflecting on all the things we are grateful for in our lives. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to practice many life skills with individuals on the Autism Spectrum.

Social Interaction
Thanksgiving usually brings together family and friends who may not see each other on a regular basis. This opens up an opportunity for an individual with autism to work on conversation exchanges with unfamiliar people. Prior to the big day, it’s a good idea for parents and behavior technicians to practice these skills using conversation scripts, which are pre-written sentences that give the learner the language to use in specific conversations. Details such as making eye contact and responding to greets are also important skills to include.

Critical Thinking
Critical thinking skills can be challenging for children with autism, so it’s always beneficial to practice them. A Thanksgiving themed critical thinking skill for beginners would be having an individual discuss the things, people and experiences that make them happy and thankful. Adding the question of why they are thankful for these things would take this skill a step further, and jotting down a list and categorizing them in order of importance could be an advanced level skill to teach.

Daily Living
Formal dining arrangements allow for students with autism to work on daily living skills such as setting the table, eating with a fork and placing a napkin in their lap while eating. It is also a good time for ABA therapists to work with their clients on manners such as saying, “please pass the gravy” and “pardon my reach.” Targets such as ‘setting the table’ can be taught using task analysis which involves breaking the skill down into individual steps. Then chaining can be used to teach each step, one at a time in sequencial order. For manners, the use of video modeling in which the child watches a video of themselves or others using good manners, would be a beneficial tool.

It’s also important to make accommodations and modify the environment so that individuals with autism are able to partake in festivities with as little stress as possible. An experienced Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) will be able to come up with suggestions of exactly how to do this.

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What To Expect
Children with autism love predictability. If they are informed with what expect on Thanksgiving Day, their level of anxiety will be low and they will be better able to navigate through their environment.  A social narrative that describes what a typical Thanksgiving Day at Auntie Betsy’s house looks like and explains appropriate ways to behave should be read many times prior to the event. This is an evidence based practice (EBP) that will allow a child to gain a sense of familiarity in preparation for the day to arrive.

Quiet Room
Designating a quiet room or even an outdoor space where a child with autism can take a break from all the loud music and boisterous company many Thanksgiving events brings will also help to ease a child with anxiety or sensory sensitivities. A feeling of being overwhelmed can often times lead to extreme meltdowns, so it’s best to be proactive and take breaks at fixed intervals so everyone enjoys their Turkey Day!

 

Join in the fun with a rewarding career in the field of Autism Therapy. So many children need your help to achieve their goals. Autism Therapy Career College will get you started as an Autism Therapist fast with our low-cost online technical school. Get started obtaining your Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) credential today!Learn-More-Button-PNG-HD

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Inspiration – Christopher Duffley

“Seeing is a gift that I share. Because I’m blind, I see people with my heart for who they truly are instead of what they look like on the outside”

Faced with so many challenges at birth, its hard to believe just how far Christopher Duffley has come. Christopher was born very prematurely with a host of medical conditions due to maternal cocaine and oxycontin use. In addition, he has been blind since birth and was diagnosed with autism as a toddler. Soon after leaving the hospital as an infant, Christopher was placed in foster care. It was not until he was adopted by his Aunt Christine at the age of two, that his life began to turn around and the gifts he shares with the world began to be revealed.

From the first day Christopher was brought home by his Aunt Christine, she recognized that he had a profound love and talent for music. In preschool, when he formally received his autism diagnosis, Christopher’s Aunt sought out Music Therapy for him. With Music Therapy, Christopher thrived. He went from having very limited language to developing an advanced vocabulary, ability to comprehend, and communicate with the world around him. He was found to have the rare auditory phenomenon of perfect pitch which allows him to re-create a music note without referencing the tone. In 4th grade his music teacher taught him the National Anthem. “The Star-Spangled Banner” is his first public performance, which he sang for his elementary school.

He went on to sing the National Anthem many more times for even bigger audiences, including at Red Sox games at Fenway Park. One of his most notable performances was of “Open the Eyes of My Heart” with a large choir at 10 years old. This video of the performance goes viral, racking in 5 million views the first month and more than 22 million views a week by the second month.

Christopher Duffley, now 16 years old, is an exceptional singer and runs his own podcast titled ‘Mission Possible’ in which he does his own editing and engineering for. Christopher says, guests on his show are all “people who have a mission.” His own ultimate mission is be an advocate for others, helping as many people as he can to rise above their struggles and find their purpose in life.

How’s that for inspiration!  Become an RBT Autism Therapist, educate, enrich and inspire the lives of children diagnosed with autism. Let Autism Therapy Career College lead the way to your rewarding future career!

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Antecedent-Based Intervention

Antecedent-Based Intervention (ABI) is just one of 27 evidence-based practices used in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for children with autism.  Today we will be discussing ABI and how it is utilized to bring about positive changes in behavior.

To understand ABI, you must first understand what an antecendent is. When a Behavior Analyst wants to bring about positive changes to a behavior, they must first ‘analyze the behavior’. In order to do this, they use the basic model of ABC:

Antecedent – what happens immediately before a behavior occurs.
Behavior – the observable behavior or response of the child.
Consequence – the event following the behavior which may increase or decrease the future occurrence of the behavior.

For example, Sammy has a hard time with brushing her hair during her morning routine. When asked by her RBT therapist to brush her hair (antecedent), Sammy verbally protests ‘no’ (behavior), her RBT therapist then prompts her through brushing her hair hand over hand (consequence).

Now that you know the role an antecedent plays in the making of a behavior, it will be easier to understand what ABI looks like. ABI are a collection of proactive strategies that modify the environment or change components of a setting that generates a maladaptive behavior. Your goal in ABI is to identify what is triggering a behavior, then change your approach to prevent the anticipated behavior from happening. ABI can assist a child with autism in feeling prepared and in control.

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Here are three ABI strategies that could be used in the example above to decrease the likelihood of Sammy’s verbal protest behavior occurring.

Visual Cues: Sammy’s RBT therapist could provide Sammy with visual support in the form of a list which shows her all the morning routine tasks to complete and lets her know when ‘brushing hair’ will occur. Sammy would review this list with her RBT therapist prior to starting her morning routine. Visual supports help children with autism reduce anxiety by letting them know what to expect and when to expect it.

Offer Choices: Sammy’s RBT therapist could also provide choices for when to complete ‘brushing hair’ by saying,“Would you like to brush your hair before or after you eat breakfast?” Offering children with autism choices and respecting their chosen choice helps them feel a sense of control in their lives.

Change the Difficulty of the Task: Maybe Sammy’s verbal protest behavior is happening because she finds ‘brushing hair’ too difficult or possibly painful. Using a detangler in her hair prior to brushing it could make her hair easier to brush and be a simple fix to the problem.

Find out more about Antecendent-Based Interventions and become an expert in Applied Behavior Analysis. Join the growing career field for RBT Autism Therapists. It’s easier than you think, just let Autism Therapy Career College, a quick vocational school, lead the way!Learn-More-Button-PNG-HD

 

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Evidence Based Practices

What are Evidence Based Practices?

Let’s start off by talking a little about what Evidence-Based Practices (EBPs) are. EBPs have become the standard for professionals in various fields of study including medicine, healthcare, psychology and education. These fields have embraced EBP procedures in a nationwide effort to provide better quality services to the people they serve. The distinct features of EBPs include: the best scientific evidence, professional expertise, and an understanding of client characteristics. Combining these three features in the decision making process for clients produces an opportunity for the greatest possible clinical outcome and quality of life.

Evidence Based Practices Application to ABA

Scientific Evidence: Scientific evidence is empirical evidence that is interpreted according to scientific methods.This is the foundation of EBP and how ABA Therapists make decisions with regard to which interventions to use with their clients.

Professional Expertise: EBPs are informed by experts in the field. Their knowledge of EBPs guide how they interpret and apply EBP interventions.

Understanding the Client: In order for EBPs to be effective, the individual with Autism’s strengths, weaknesses, values and preferences must be taken into consideration. The concerns of the individual’s support network, such as their family and community must also be upheld.

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ABA Therapy uses only Evidence Based Practices

The United States is experiencing a massive increase in children diagnosed with Autism. One out of every 68 babies born today in America will develop Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is crucial that the therapeutic interventions for these children be EBPs that will yield result that contribute to improvements in learning, independence, daily living skills and overall betterment of their lives.

The following are 27 interventions used in ABA Therapy that have been proven to be effective EBPs for children diagnosed with autism.

  1. Antecedent-based Intervention (ABI)
  2. Cognitive Behavioral Intervention (CBI)
  3. Computer Aided Instruction (CAI)
  4. Differential Reinforcement (DR)
  5. Discrete Trial Training (DTT)
  6. Exercise (ECE)
  7. Extinction (EXT)
  8. Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)
  9. Functional Communication Training (FCT)
  10. Modeling (MD)
  11. Naturalistic Intervention (NI)
  12. Parent-implemented Intervention (PII)
  13. Peer-mediated Instruction and Intervention (PMII)
  14. Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
  15. Pivotal Response Training (PRT)
  16. Prompting (PP)
  17. Reinforcement (R+)
  18. Response Interruption/Redirection (RIR)
  19. Scripting (SC)
  20. Self-management (SM)
  21. Social Narratives (SN)
  22. Social Skills Training (SST)
  23. Speech Generating Devices (SGD)
  24. Task Analysis (TA)
  25. Time Delay (TD)
  26. Video Modeling (VM)
  27. Visual Support (VS)

Stay tuned for details on all these remarkable interventions for children with autism, or get a head start and begin learning about many of these teaching techniques when you start your career as an RBT Autism Therapist with Autism Therapy Career College. Its a quick and affordable vocational school where you can become a Registered Behavior Technician in 90 days!

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Pairing with Reinforcement

Start Off Pairing & Never Stop!

One of the very first things an RBT Autism Therapist will be asked to do when they start working with a new client, is Pairing. ‘Pairing’ is a technical ABA term which refers to the process of pairing yourself with reinforcement. The goal of Pairing is for your client to equate you with preferred items, enjoyable activities and having an all-around great time!

Typically the first few weeks of Autism Therapy, will involve pure Pairing. For successful Pairing, you will want to spend time getting to know what your client enjoys and join them in whatever activity they chose to do. Taking them to the park to swing, chasing them in the backyard, giving them endless tickles or singing their favorite song over and over, are all examples of things to do during Pairing. This is also a great time to introduce your new client to your ‘bag of tricks’ filled with toys, books, games, bubbles and anything else you think they might be interested in. This ‘bag of tricks’ will arrive and go home with you, that way your client will Pair these items with you.

Pair yourself with reinforcement by delivering reinforcers for “free”. This means that the child is not required to ‘do’ anything to get access to reinforcement. The only requirement should be that the client is not displaying any problem behavior. For example, the client can be given edibles (like cereal) while playing with you as long as he/she in not crying. The most important thing to remember is that the client should always have to go through you to get to the reinforcer. In the clients eyes, their world should always get better when you are around. Pairing does not stop after the first few weeks. Pairing intermittently during each ABA session will continue for ever.  Terrific Pairing will enhance the learning environment by increasing your clients’ motivation to learn which will in-turn lead to greater progress to goals. In addition, your young clients will enjoy their ABA therapy and remember it fondly for the rest of their lives.

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How you know you’ve successfully paired with a client: 

  • When you arrive your client will smile and run to you, instead of cry and run away
  • You may start feeling like one big toy – being told to do this, play that, or becoming a jungle gym for them to climb all over
  • Your client will want to stay with you throughout your therapy session even when demands start to be placed on them

Bonding initially with your client creates a foundation for success. Pairing increases the chances that once it’s time to begin placing demands on your client (giving instructions), they will engage in fewer maladaptive behaviors and more learning can take place. It’s important to remember when introducing demands, that this happens slowly with simple tasks while gradually working your way up to more challenging tasks. It’s also crucial that pairing NEVER STOP. Even after the initial pairing process, when your child-therapist relationship is well established, you need to designate some time, during each session, to play with your client. Place no demands, just play. This will ensure that you remain a favorite friend to your student.

Take the first step to changing the life of a child with autism. Autism Therapy Career College will lead the way. ATCC  is a quick and affordable vocational school that will get you credentialed to be a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) in just 90 days!

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Reinforcement, YES!

Reinforcement directs most everything we do in our daily lives without us giving much thought to it and, in addition to being an Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) for children with Autism, it is undeniably one of the most important principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

So, what is reinforcement?  It is an event, activity, or other circumstance occurring after a learner engages in a desired behavior that leads to the increased occurrence of the behavior in the future.

Today I will be focusing on the most popular method of reinforcement used in ABA therapy, ‘Positive Reinforcement.’ Positive Reinforcement is when, after a behavior occurs, you add something to the environment in order to increase the likelihood of that behavior happening again in the future.

Examples:
Simon often plays alone at school. His therapist starts giving him a skittle whenever he asks a friend to play. Simon now asks a friend to play every day at school. 

Julia refuses to sit at the table when it’s time for therapy.  Her therapist starts bringing in fun light up toys that Julia gets to play with for a few minutes after coming to the table for the therapy. Julia will now willingly come and sit at the table when it’s time for therapy.

Often times children with autism are not driven to learn by intrinsic rewards, such as the interest pleasing their therapist. Instead, it is the job of the RBT to motivate their clients to learn by providing external rewards, such as a lots and lots of tickles, praise and fun toys following a desired behavior to increase that behavior.

Ahhhh rewards….Every great Autism Therapist comes to work ready with their ‘bag of tricks’. Here are some fun ideas and tips for reinforcers!

Edibles– With permission from your BCBA Supervisor and the caregivers of your client, FOOD should be included in your bag. Fun snack foods that you know your client likes to eat and doesn’t get to eat all of the time are a strong reinforcer that should be used when learning new skills and skills that are very challenging for your client.

Tangibles– TOYS, TOYS, TOYS. Light up toys, toys that make noise and toys with moving parts are all favorites of not just children with autism, but all kids. To save money, these toys can be purchased second hand at thrift stores and garage sales for cheap. You can also fill your bag with toys easily made at home such as slime, bubbles, sensory bottles, dress up scarves or even just a cup of beans to pour.

Verbal– These are reinforcers that come out of your mouth, no tools required. Verbal reinforcers are praises, such as saying “Way to go!” and “You’re awesome!” when your client gives you a correct response or is demonstrating improved behavior. Use expression in your face and make silly noises if you want.  Just remember, there are so, so, so many praises that you can use beyond the words “Good job.” Don’t get stuck in a rut by repeating the same praise over and over again as it will lose its reinforcing quality fast.

Social– This is all about making yourself reinforcing. Anything as simple as giving your client a hug, tickles, a high five or thumbs up when they are learning and listening to instructions is a social reinforcer. You can also make this more elaborate by giving your client a ‘Chair Ride’ by rotating it back and forth, tilting it and pretending there is an earthquake happening in their chair. Or play ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat’ by sitting on the ground across from your client with legs criss-crossed, holding hands and rocking back and forth while singing the song. Another idea is to play ‘Snoring Monster,’ this is done by pretending you’ve fallen asleep snoring, then wake up suddenly, roaring and clobber your client with tickles.

Our kiddos work hard and they work hard every day. It’s our job not only to help them master goals, but to make their learning fun!

Become an Autism Therapist with Autism Therapy Career College, and enjoy the rewarding career of helping children learn through fun and play!

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“THE BEST – PASS THE RBT COMPETENCY ASSESSMENT – STUDY WORKBOOK”

Autism Therapy Career College has created “THE BEST – PASS THE RBT COMPETENCY ASSESSMENT – STUDY WORKBOOK” and would like to share a chapter with you today, for free!

If you are already preparing for your RBT Competency Assessment with a BCBA or if you are just thinking about becoming a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT), this study workbook is a MUST!!!

We are very excited to be offering you a chapter of “THE BEST – PASS THE RBT COMPETENCY ASSESSMENT – STUDY WORKBOOK” to you at no charge. We love helping you and we know you will pass your RBT Competency Assessment with Flying Colors if you use this workbook. Specifically you will be downloading Competency #5: Assist with functional assessment procedures.

00001      DOWNLOAD NOW: Competency #5 PDF

For more information about becoming a Registered Behavior Technician and joining the booming field of ABA Therapy for children with Autism. Contact Autism Therapy Career College at 1-877-770-ATCC!

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ABA Therapy Explained

First, it’s important to know what ABA stands for. ABA is an acronym for the words; Applied Behavior Analysis. Applied Behavior Analysis, in the simplest terms, is a technique used to study and bring about positive changes to behavior. Behavior Analysts use data they gather from observations to understand how the environment is interacting with the behavior of their client, then they develop interventions in order to increase appropriate behavior and decrease maladaptive behavior.

Positive Reinforcement and Prompting is used to teach each step of a behavior. This evidence-based practice (EBP) has been proven to be effective in teaching children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and related developmental disorders. Through the use of ABA with therapists, in a one-on-one setting, individuals with autism learn skills and master goals that are applicable to improving their everyday lives, whether in their home, school or communities.

ABC…it’s as easy as 123! Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence is the basic model of Applied Behavior Analysis therapy. A Behavior Analyst must first ‘analyze the behavior’ and then take action in an attempt to bring about changes in the desired direction.

Below you will find the definition of the ABC contingency and an example of its use. In these examples, the ABA therapist’s goal is for her client to write his name when directed to do so. Which client, Tommy or Fred, will be more likely to write his name independently in the future?

‘A’- Antecedent = The event or activity that happens immediately before a problem behavior.
Example 1: Tommy is asked by his therapist to write his name.
Example 2: Fred is asked by his therapist to write his name.

‘B’ – Behavior = The observed behavior or response by the child.
Example 1: Tommy pounds his fists on the table.
Example 2: Fred pounds his fists on the table.

‘C’ – Consequence = The event following the behavior, which acts to reinforce appropriate or extinguish maladaptive behaviors.
Example 1: Tommy’s therapist gives him a break.
Example 2: Fred is prompted to pick up his pencil and assisted with writing his name. After writing his name, he is then given a break.

If you thought it was Fred who is more likely to write his name independently in the future, you’re right! Fred is more likely to write his name, because he is not reinforced after being non-compliant and pounding his fist, he is instead redirected to complete the task. He receives a reward from his ABA Therapist, the break, only after he writes his name.

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Highly successful ABA programs have these main characteristics:

  • They involve a team of ABA therapists who have received Intensive Training.
  • The program includes 20-40 hour per week of ABA therapy with a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) therapist and biweekly visits from a BCBA clinical supervisor.
  • Behavior intervention strategies must be carefully planned, including being sound in theory and practice.
  • It is important that there is ongoing data collection to evaluate if the interventions put in place are effective.

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