What does an ABA Program involve?
An ABA program involves social skills training, pivotal response therapy, verbal behaviour training, and natural environment teaching. One of its therapy modules also includes social skills trainings for autism adults. Having said this, the techniques used in ABA therapy for autism differ from child to child. Any and all recommendations are made only after a detailed functional assessment. Similarly, the various interventions of ABA therapy also differ according to the needs of the child.
Some of the basic interventions used in ABA therapy are behavioural therapy, relationship interventions, positive behaviour support and cognitive behaviour interventions. The ABA therapist plays a key role in breaking down various target behaviours into small achievable goals after functional behaviour assessment. Whenever the child or autistic adult meets these goals, the therapist responds with a structured reinforcement and encouragement.
For instance, if the therapist wants the child to perform a task of solving a puzzle, then this process is broken down by the therapist into an ‘antecedent = instruction’, ‘behaviour = the child followed the instruction/ didn’t follow the instruction’ and ‘consequence = reward/ punishment. Every time the child follows the instructions correctly on their own, the therapist rewards the child. Every time they don’t, the therapist may give the child a time out, or an activity which would reduce the likelihood of the child not following the instruction in the future.
There are also specific types of ABA Therapy which again differ according to the child’s challenging areas of behaviour and development, the age of the autistic child and other factors. One such type is Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention that focuses specifically on children younger than five years. For verbal and communication skills Verbal Behaviour Interventions are applied. Similarly, there are some more types of ABA Therapy like Discrete Trial Training, Pivotal Response Training and Early Start Denver Model.
It was earlier believed that early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI), a treatment module based on the principles of ABA therapy was one of the more well‐established treatments for ASD. However, a recent study in August, 2017 has implied that this may not entirely be factual. The study conducted started that due to the unavailability of high‐quality, generalizable proof to determine the effects of EIBI for ASD, therapists are suggested to take decisions about using it on a case‐to‐case basis.
EIBI’s module includes behavior modification for non-compliance, aggressive, destructive, self-injurious, and stereotypic behavior often exhibited by children with autism. It relies on the skillful use of positive reinforcement procedures. The ABA therapist may use things to eat, drink, watch, or even toys. The sessions are usually conducted in combination with social interactions. This motivates the child to produce independent language skills. The ABA therapist also includes the family members to identify reinforcers specifically for this type of ABA program.
Verbal Behavior, Verbal Behavior Intervention, or Applied Verbal Behavior (AVB), is an application of ABA therapy for functional analysis of the acquisition of language in individuals. The primary focus in AVB is to identify deficits in a child's functional language skills, to determine how to best capture a child’s motivation. This motivation helps to pair the value of a word and the word itself, through behavior training. Verbal Behavior intervention often works on mastering four distinct components of Skinner’s verbal behavior (i.e., mands, tacts, echoics, and intraverbals).
Discrete trial training (DTT) is a method of teaching skills through a structured module of small, easily-taught components. Skills such as cognitive, communication, play, social and self-help can be taught under the Discrete trial training module. DTT is a particularly strong method for developing a new response to a stimulus. However, it limitations involve lack of reinforcement for learner spontaneity and difficulty with generalization. The way to overcome these limitations is to modulate plans for teaching generalized use of these new skills. This could be across environments, materials, and people. It could also include the development of teaching plans for learner initiation of the new skill.
Pivotal Response Training (PRT) is another module of ABA therapy that builds on learner initiative and interests. It is particularly effective for developing communication, language, play, and social behaviors. PRT came into being in order to create a more efficient and effective intervention. It enhances four pivotal learning variables: motivation, responding to multiple cues, self-management, and self-initiations. Theoretically, these skills are pivotal because they are the foundational skills upon which learners with ASD can make widespread and generalized improvements in many other areas.
The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is an important approach for autistic children. The developmental curriculum specifically targets areas in which autsitc children may have difficulty—social interaction, integrated skills sets, and personal relationship forming—with a relationship-focused curriculum. It relies on intensively tested and empirically verified teaching techniques that draw on ABA and field-vetted teaching practices. The ESDM prepares autistic children and their parents for future educational and developmental programs. It helps establish relationship-focused behaviors in the autistic children at an early age. This assists in their integration to larger social groups in the long run. An ABA therapist may consider it as a great tool for autistic children who may not initiate a connection with their peers and may experience difficulty learning other related tasks. Refer to our Worldwide Directory to start ABA therapy for your autistic child, from an ABA Therapist closest to you.