Saturday, June 18, 2016

What to look for in an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Intervention?

The road to finding the right treatment for your child with special needs can be confusing and cumbersome. Among other options, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has unique features. I hope the following will assist you in choosing the most effective help for your child.

1.      ABA interventions are individualized: they are developed and carefully monitored to ensure progress for clients. Therefore, ABA is a continuous data-based decision making progress that guarantees “to be certain, through constant measurement and experimentation, that the particular case in hand is going well and will continue to go well,” as stated by Cooper, Heron and Heward in the preface of Applied Behavior Analysis, 2nd edition, 2007. Weekly and monthly meetings with the supervisor of the program should be provided so you have the chance to discuss progress on a regular basis.
2.      Priority is placed on identifying challenging behaviors and replacement behaviors, reinforcements, proactive and reactive strategies, behavior tools to implement those strategies, and parent/caregiver training.

The anticipated outcome would be for your child to make steady progress in a variety of domains, such as social skills, functional communication, independent living skills, etc.) while undesired behaviors are decrease/eliminated, thus ultimately reaching their maximum potential. The main objective is for the child to function independently in all of the developmental domains.

The following are anticipated outcomes specific to behavior:
·        Clients will learn appropriate coping strategies in order to deal with frustration, and manage disruptive behaviors.
·        Clients will decrease the frequency, intensity, and/or duration of maladaptive behaviors that prevent them from accessing community settings.
·        Parents and caregivers will learn strategies and techniques to help facilitate positive interactions with their child while learning to manage problem behaviors.
·        Clients will develop functional communication skills in order to communicate independently.
·        Clients will increase their ability to function independently in their environment by improving independent living skills (e.g., dressing, potty training, eating with a utensil, drinking from a cup, washing face/hands, brushing their teeth, money management, community safety skills, etc.).
·        Clients will increase appropriate social interactions while decreasing behaviors that focus on isolation.  
·        Children will learn functional play skills in order to increase positive social interaction with peers, relatives, and siblings.
·        Clients and their families will learn specific strategies and techniques to deal with problem behaviors when they occur in the community.

The “Applied” component of Applied Behavior Analysis means that interventions are conducted in natural environments (i.e. home, school and community), rather than in clinical settings. This allows for the direct implementation of learned skills, thus aiming for generalization across settings, people and time.

As a parent, look for, request and demand the above mentioned components.

In sum, by taking this individualized, data-based approach, we maximize the chance of success of the treatment plan.

Daniel Adatto

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