Applied behavior analysis (ABA) systematically applies the principles of learning theory. Positive reinforcement is one such principle. When a behavior is followed by reward, the behavior is more likely to be repeated. Through decades of research, the field of behavior analysis has developed many techniques for increasing socially significant behaviors and reducing those that may cause harm or interfere with learning.
The goal of ABA is to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree. This is done through the use of systematically applied interventions based on the principles of learning theory and demonstrates that the interventions employed are responsible for the improved behavior.
(Baer, Wolf & Risley, 1968; Sulzer-Azaroff & Mayer, 1991).
ABA METHODS ARE USED TO:
- Increase behaviors (e.g. reinforcement procedures increase on-task behavior, or social interactions);
- Teach new skills (e.g., systematic instruction and reinforcement procedures teach functional life skills, communication skills, or social skills);
- Maintain behaviors (e.g., teaching self control and self-monitoring procedures to maintain and generalize social skills);
- Generalize or to transfer behavior from one situation or response to another (e.g., from completing tasks with a therapist to performing the skils at home with family);
- Restrict or narrow conditions under which interfering behaviors occur (e.g., modifying the learning environment); and
- Reduce interfering behaviors (e.g., self injury, tantrum, aggression or stereotypy).
SOCIALLY SIGNIFICANT BEHAVIORS TARGETED IN ABA:
- Social skills
Adaptive living skills include but are not limited to:
- Dressing and other personal self-care skills
- Domestic skills including food preparation
- Executive function skills (time management, organization, etc.)
- Home and community skills
- Tolerance of medical appointments and procedures
- Safety awareness
Treatment approaches grounded in ABA are now considered to be at the forefront of therapeutic and educational interventions for children with autism. The large amount of scientific evidence supporting ABA treatments is what has resulted in the State’s support of the program through the New York State Autism Insurance Law.
Building Blocks’ ABA Program consists of a transdisciplinary approach led by a Licensed Board Certified Behavior Analyst (LBCBA) in collaboration with a licensed physician, psychologist or both. Other team members may include: parents, teachers, speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, case workers, and/or social workers.
Our LBCBA evaluates each child and determines a treatment program based on individual needs. The following components guide this individualized approach:
- Selection of interfering behavior or behavioral skill deficit
- Identification of goals and objectives
- Establishment of a method of measuring target behaviors
- Evaluation of the current levels of performance (baseline)
- Design and implementation of the interventions that teach new skills and/or reduce interfering behaviors
- Continuous measurement of target behaviors to determine the effectiveness of the intervention, and
- Ongoing evaluation of the effectiveness of the intervention, with modifications made as necessary to maintain and/or increase both the effectiveness and the efficiency of the intervention. (MADSEC, 2000, p. 21-23)
Treatment includes: Individual services for the child and his/her family, Group therapy for the children, as well as individual and group training for the families.
NEW YORK STATE AUTISM INSURANCE LAW (ABA)
- Passed in 2012, law requires state regulated health plans to cover ABA Therapy.
- The law covers screenings, diagnosis and treatment.
- Child must have a documented diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
- Therapy must be provided by a Licensed Board Certified Behavior Analyst (LBCBA).
- The law does NOT affect any obligation of the State Education or Health Department to provide services to a child under their Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) or Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
- The ABA services are intended to supplement the IEP/IFSP and must be prescribed by a licensed psychologist or physician