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Applied Behavior Analysis is the design, implementation, and evaluation of systematic environmental modifications for the purpose of producing socially significant improvements in and understanding of human behavior based on the principles of behavior identified through the experimental analysis of behavior. It includes the identification of functional relationships between behavior and environments
The State of Florida, where ABA is widely used, defines the field as follows: The design, implementation, and evaluation of systematic environmental modifications for the purpose of producing socially significant improvements in and understanding of human behavior based on the principles of behavior identified through the experimental analysis of behavior. It includes the identification of functional relationships between behavior and environments. It uses direct observation and measurement of behavior and environment. Contextual factors, establishing operations, antecedent stimuli, positive reinforcers, and other consequences are used, based on identified functional relationships with the environment, in order to produce practical behavior change.
ABA and AutismEdit
Applied Behavior Analysis has been shown to be an effective means of intervention for some individuals with autism and is widely used with this population. A substantial (and increasing) amount of research in the field of ABA is concerned with autism; however, it is a common misconception among the general public that Applied Behavior Analysts work almost exclusively with individuals with autism and that ABA is synonymous with Discrete Trials teaching.
Discrete Trials were originally used by B.F. Skinner in his experimental studies with rats and pigeons to demonstrate how learning was influenced by rates of reinforcement. The discrete trials method was adapted as a therapy for developmentally delayed children and children with autism. For example, Ivar Lovaas, who pioneered behavioral treatment for children with autism, used discrete trials to help children learn skills ranging from making eye contact and following simple instructions to advanced language and social skills.
Maintaining parental and professional relationships in the ABA approachEdit
An adequate communication and a supportive relationship between educational systems and families allow children to receive a beneficial education. This pertains to typical learners as well as to children who need additional services. It was not until the 1960s that researchers began exploring Applied Behavior Analysis as a method to educate those children who fall somewhere on the autism spectrum. Behavioral analysts agree that consistency in and out of the school classroom is key in order for autistic children to maintain proper standing in school and continue to develop to their greatest potential.
Applied behavior analysis involves an entire team working together to address a child's needs. This team includes professionals such as speech therapists as well as the children's primary caregivers, who are treated as key to the implementation of successful therapy in the ABA model. The ABA method relies on behavior principles and a recommended curriculum that reflects an individual child's needs and abilities. As such, regular meetings with professionals to discuss programming are one way to establish a successful working relationship between a child's family and their school. When a caregiver can be the outlet source for the generalization of skills outside of school, it helps the child's therapy process by catering to the child's individual needs. In the ABA framework, developing and maintaining a structured working relationship between parents and professionals is essential to ensure consistency of thought and practice of behavioral methods.
- Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, Developmental Services Program. (1996). Chapter 10F-4, service delivery practice and procedure. Tallahassee, FL: Author.
- Moran, D.J., & Malott, R.W. (2004). Evidence-Based Educational Methods. San Diego, CA: Elsevier Academic Press
- Lovaas, O. I. (1987). Behavioral treatment and normal education and intellectual functioning in young autistic children. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55, 3-9
- McEachin, J.J., Smith, T, & Lovaas, O. I (1993). Long-term outcome for children with autism who received early intensive behavioral treatment. American Journal of Mental Retardation, 97, 359-372
- Howard, Sparkman, Cohen, Green, & Stanislaw, (2005). A comparison of intensive behavior analytic and eclectic treatments for young children with autism. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 26, (2005), pp. 359-383
- Ascribe.org - 'Cal State University Stanislaus Professors Publish Revealing Report on Methods for Treating Autism' (August 5, 2005)
- BACB.com - 'Defining the Field of Behavior Analysis', Behavior Analyst Certification Board
- Behavior.org - Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies
- Sentex.net - 'The Misbehaviour of Behaviourists: Ethical Challenges to the Autism-ABA Industry', Michelle Dawson (2004)de:Applied Behavior Analysis
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