Questions About ABA Services
What is ABA and how does it work?
Applied behavior analysis is the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree, and to demonstrate that the interventions employed are responsible for the improvement in behavior (Baer, Wolf & Risley, 1968; Sulzer-Azaroff & Mayer, 1991).
These improvements in behavior are accomplished by breaking behaviors down in their component parts of Discriminantive Stimulus (Sd), Response (R), and Reinforcing Stimulus (Sr) and tapping into motivation to adjust behaviors step by step so that over time desirable behaviors are increased and undesirable behaviors are decreased. Good ABA is done by reducing the prompts so that the Sd's and Sr's become more and more natural over time.
How many hours of ABA per week will my child receive?
Each child's Care Plan is developed individually as part of the initial assessment. Your BCBA will determine your child's specific needs and make recommendations accordingly. It is important to remember that ABA is like any other medical prescription. The prescribed hours are based on what your BCBA determines is medically necessary for your child to make progress. Your child's care plan and the recommended hours will be reviewed with your family. Hours generally decrease as the client progresses in independence and generalizes behavioral changes to other critical settings.
Studies have shown that the brain's plasticity is the highest between age 1 and 10 and that with earlier intervention, greater progress can be made. Our goal is to graduate your child from services, achieving independence in the least restrictive environment possible.
What is a BCBA?
A Board Certified Behavior Analyst is a trained behavior analyst who holds a masters degree in behavior therapy and has passed the national BCBA board certification examination. A BCBA conducts descriptive and systematic (e.g., analogue) behavioral assessments, including functional analyses, and provides behavior analytic interpretations of the results.
A BCBA designs and supervises behavior analytic interventions. BCBAs effectively develop and implement appropriate assessments and intervention methods for use in unfamiliar situations and for a range of cases. The BCBA teaches others including parents to carry out ethical and effective behavior analytic interventions based on published research and designs and delivers instruction in behavior analysis.
Invo BCBAs supervise the work of Care Team Members to ensure that effective interventions are being performed, appropriate methodologies are being used, and progress is being made. We take great pride in working with talented, compassionate BCBAs who share in our commitment to excellence and outcomes.
What does a typical ABA session look like?
In most cases, an ABA session will look like fun for your child. ABA is typically a high energy interaction between the client and the therapist. ABA sessions include some discrete trial work which might occur at the table, lots of positive reinforcement using whatever is motivating for the child: praise, toys, hugs, high-fives, opportunities to play. Often there will be a mix of tasks that the therapist is practicing in order to assure that there is focus and mastery vs. rote repetition or boredom.
Successful ABA sessions begin with building trust between the client and the therapist. While the child and their care team will be working toward goals, they are also building trust. Our kids work hard during their sessions and make great progress, but they are having fun while they are learning and growing!
I've heard people say ABA is abusive. Is this true?
We have great respect for the many voices within our community, particularly those of autistics who have voiced concerns over their own experiences with ABA through other companies. Our services align with best practices in ABA. Our clinical practice is designed and assessed by experts in behavior analysis and we are a Behavioral Health Center of Excellence. We encourage families with any concerns to ask any questions you may have about ABA in general or our services specifically.
How does ABA support language and communication?
ABA therapy focuses on receptive, and expressive language skills by working on structured programs to measure vocabulary and expand capabilities in matching features and functions.
ABA mixes language programs with play programs, academic programs, motor skills, and activities of daily living such as toileting. ABA teaches all of the verbal operants or functional units of language as described by Skinner in his book Verbal Behavior.
When these units of language are systematically taught using principles of ABA, a child with autism benefits through an increase in receptive and expressive language, including communication, or requesting.
Why is matching an important skill?
Matching is one of the brains core skills for analyzing information. When children can identify which things "fit" with other things, they have a pre-requisite for other things such as sorting and counting which can eventually lead to higher executive functions.
What is a token system and how does it work?
Token systems are used to assist in creating motivations to reward kids for desired behaviors. They can be very useful in assisting children in developing self-discipline, understanding delayed gratification, and building other skills in order to earn tokens.
Should I use reinforcers with my child?
All behavior is reinforced positively or negatively by what happens after the behavior. By using reinforcers such as praise, access to toys, or allowing preferred activities, you have the ability to support your child's behavior positively.
My child will not sit at a table. Will ABA still work for us?
ABA as a practice does not require "table time". Quality ABA providers follow a child's motivation to develop and shape behaviors effectively. If the child is motivated on the floor, that may be where therapy begins. To develop highly functional skills over time, it may be helpful to build the ability to work at the table and attention to task at the table can be developed over time. We meet your child where they are at and then we work toward goals together!