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Applied Behavior Analysis FAQs
What is Applied Behavior Analysis?
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the science of human behavior and learning that began even before the work of B.F. Skinner over 70 years ago. Skinner taught us that learning can be accelerated by arranging the learning environment and consequences of behavior in classrooms. Teachers or parents who actively work to organize the learning environments of their students to accelerate learning are more effective than those teachers who instead rely on the student to organize his environment.
Through many years of research in the field of ABA, we have learned that the important parts of the learning environments that we need to organize are:
- What we do to make a behavior occur.
- What we do after the behavior occurs to make it stronger in the future. In other words, if we want a child with autism to learn to come to us every time we call him then we have to
- do something to make the behavior occur (call him) and then
- do something after the behavior that will make him want to come next time (give a reinforcer or a reward. This process of arranging antecedents (calling) and consequences (giving a reinforcer) is the basic unit of all teaching for children with autism. If you learn how to arrange these antecedents and consequences you will teach your student/child many skills.
What Skills Should You Teach to Children With Autism?
The field of ABA has not only given us the most effective methods but has provided us with the scope and sequence of the teaching curriculum for children with autism. The skills that you teach should be based on an assessment of the child's present level of functioning in a number of important curriculum areas. The assessment should include samples of a child's performance in the following areas:
- COOPERATION WITH TEACHER/PARENT REQUESTS OR INSTRUCTION
- VISUAL PERFORMANCE - MATCHING AND SORTING
- RECEPTIVE LANGUAGE - UNDERSTANDING WHAT IS BEING SAID TO YOU, (E.G., INSTRUCTIONS, DIRECTIONS, THE NAMES OF OBJECTS.
- MOTOR IMITATION - COPYING IMMEDIATELY WHAT SOMEONE ELSE HAS JUST DONE
Kathy..along time a go you had a neat article about therapists and how they should not try and be something they aren't like. Do you remember?
Try Letter to Therapists.
I understand that the more ABA hours the better. Will having more experienced therapists for 20 hours be more effective than having inexperienced therapists for 40 hours?
In my experience and in the experience of other ABA professionals this is generally the case. One caveat is that the experienced therapist have *good* experience, not poor quality experience. It is best to look for a Board Certified Behavior Analyst to run the program and ensure competent training of therapists.
Are there different types/levels of ABA certification? When a position asks that you be ABA certified is there a basic certification that they are referring to? What is the most basic type of certification and what is the cost?
There are several types of certification and I'll try to list them:
- The national Behavior Analyst Certification Board (http://www.bacb.com/) They offer certification in both a full fledged BCBA - Board Certified Behavior Analyst and the lessor BCABA - Board Certified Associate Behavior Analyst. Costs include: Required coursework (cost depends on where coursework is obtained), mentorship for 6 or 12 months, and exam costs.
- Individual states may offer different certification systems, mostly for autism and often through the educational system.