What Is Applied Behavioral Analysis?

December 01, 2017

At Pinnacle Autism Therapy, we implement behavioral analysis as a part of our services. If your child has recently been diagnosed with autism, likely, your world has been a whirlwind. The best thing you can do for your child is inform and educate yourself. In this article we’ll touch on the therapy we use, to help you better understand the program and techniques used at Pinnacle.

What is behavioral analysis?
Behavioral analysis is an approach that is science-based, used to understand behavior and how it affects the individual in their environment. Behavior is considered actions and skills, and environment refers to influence, either physical or social. A person’s environment can or will change based on that person’s behavior.

People thrive with behavioral analysis because it’s practical and doable every day. The principles and methods help learners collect and use a variety of skills that can be applied in day-to-day life. This ranges from learning healthy food choices to language skills.

The root of behavioral analysis is explaining how learning takes place, such as positive reinforcement — a behavior that is positively rewarded will likely be repeated. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) has had decades of research, keeping the techniques that are useful and discarding those that are ineffective or may be harmful. The big picture is a technique that reinforces a positive change in a person’s behavior.

Since the 1960s, ABA has been guided by a professional in the instruction, but at times they allow children to take the lead. ABA techniques have since evolved for autistic individuals from toddler age through adulthood.

ABA and autism
ABA and its use in treating those with autism is backed by the US Surgeon General and other state and federal agencies. ABA helps those with autism by reinforcing basic skills such as imitating, looking, and listening. More complex skills such as reading and critical thinking skills can also be fostered.

What does research conclude about ABA?
Research has found a high success rate in helping autistic individuals to improve in communication, social relationships, self care, play, school, and employment when ABA is used. Participation in group settings — family and community activities — also increased with ABA.

There is likely a positive correlation in life skills including communication and sociability, when both early intervention and intensive programs are incorporated. Early intervention is defined as programs before the age of four, and intensive programs are ones that offer a total of 25 to 40 hours a week for up to three years. Pinnacle offers an intensive program model, and offers children the opportunity to practice skills in a structured and unstructured setting.
Kids that do participate in either early intervention or an intensive program, have manifested significant improvements in their learning skills and abilities. They are also often able to transition into regular classrooms with little or no additional support.

One size does not fit all with ABA
A one-size-fits-all approach to ABA is a grave disservice to your child, which is why we customize every intervention to each learner’s skills and abilities. Every child is diverse in what their needs, interests, and preferences are, which is why your child will always be treated as an individual.

Some ABA techniques include the following:

  • Behavior analytic procedures performed by either the instructor or learner.
  • Ongoing education for not only the learner, but also caregivers and family members to further support the child.
  • A day that varies in structured or structured environments for the child to practice skills naturally.
  • An abundance of ongoing positive reinforcement for demonstrating a positive skill set.
  • There is no reinforcement for undesirable behaviors.

When does progress happen?
Because every learner’s needs are different, the rate at which progress occurs will vary. Changes do not happen overnight, and it’s better to go in with an open mind and realize that change happens one day at a time. It’s building a foundation with your child step-by-step. If rapid progress does occur, it will be in one or two areas like reading and play.

Pinnacle Autism Therapy is here to support your child
Our board-certified instructors are here to foster functional, life skills for your child in a natural and supportive environment. We’re also here for your family to provide the latest research and education, so you can support your child as well.

Contact us today for more information!

Autism: A Journey to UnderstandingEarly Intervention With Autism
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