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What is ABA?
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the science of human behavior and learning that began with 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