What is ABA? Or Why this site?
I’m not going to give you a lot of technical jargon (I’ll save that for a separate page on this site). Instead, I just want to talk about what we do. For a lot of people who are not quite sure about what we do it can mean a lot of different things and most of them not so great. How many times have you had people ask you what you do and when you tell them they say something like…”Oh…kinda like dog training”…or “I heard that makes kids robotic”…or “interesting…that’s not really the way people learn.” Unfortunately there are many misconceptions about applied behavior analysis, and for people who are not familiar with this term so, you attempt to explain to use a more familiar term, “behavior modification” and then you really hear the misconceptions.
If you tell people that you work with children with autism it is almost immediate that someone will say, “That’s wonderful! That must be SOOOO rewarding!!” Then the most obvious question occurs next, “Why do you think there is such an increase in autism?” First, yes, it is rewarding to work with children and their families. I have been fortunate to have had the experiences of working with children from when they were first diagnosed to when they lost their diagnosis, were declassified by their school districts and went on to no longer require any additional support. It has also been tremendously rewarding to work with families whose children (both young and older) did not have any meaningful form of communication, frequent tantrums and were not toilet trained. Figuring out how a child is going communicate is one thing, seeing the first truly meaningful spontaneous initiation from the child directed to their parent using the new communication system is a whole other level of rewarding.
“Why do you think there is such an increase in autism?”
My answer is simple…”who knows?” The bottom line is this, there a lot of very smart people working on identifying genetic markers and doing all kinds of smart things like that. I’m sure we are all very grateful that these people have taken on this herculean task, in the meantime if you’re a parent and your child does not talk, or he talks but it mostly echoing or he is tantrumming frequently and you are not sure if you can go to the store with him today the genetic markers aren’t so important right now. If you’re a teacher, therapist, behavior analyst working with this child and his or her family what you need are effective teaching strategies to help the child meet their potential.
What We Need NOW!
The term “teaching strategies” may mean a lot of different things to different people, so please let me clarify…I’m not talking about a “bag of tricks.” I’m talking about identifying a problem, doing some research on what has proven effective with others and implementing and evaluating a procedure that will change the behavior that is being targeted. If the selected procedure does not yield the desired behavior change, then try something else. This is an oversimplification of this process of course. I am not yet talking about collecting baseline data, data regarding acquisition of the new behavior, data regarding generalization of the new behavior etc. I am simply stating that what parents, teachers, behaviorists and any therapists working with a person with a developmental difference needs is effective strategies to teach the behaviors that their learner needs in order to communicate, be independent, stick up for themselves and hopefully…eventually not need us anymore.
So…What is ABA?
It is a complex science of behavior…
It is the understanding that all events occur as a result of other events…
It is knowing that what occurs in the environment is what ultimately increases or decreases your behavior…
It is the clarification that the realm of human behavior occurs as result of 4 functions (i.e., reasons “why” the behavior occurs)…
It is making decisions based on data..
It is the only science that once understood can allow you, your parents, your children and every person you encounter live a better and more fulfilling life.
(If you are still looking for the nerdy version of what ABA is, click the tab labeled “ABA Stuff”)
Thanks for reading!