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Applying ABA at Home

Does your child struggle with stereotypical or problem behaviors in your home? Are youBlogABAHome-Main-Landscape exhausted from constant redirection and monitoring? Do you need a change? Can parents utilize the basic principles of ABA at home with their kids? Yes! Here are some quick tips and tricks to help behavior management in your home by applying ABA.

Give Behavior Specific Praise

Always praise appropriate behaviors! Providing this type of positive reinforcement for good behavior will not only increase your child’s motivation but will also allow you to see more of those behaviors in the future. Throwing in a specific praise statement gives the child feedback on the exact behavior you want to see increased. For example, saying “Nice job!” is good, but saying, “Nice job packing your back pack!” is even better and you’re likely to see them packing their backpack the next day.

Offer Choices

Whenever possible offer your child choices. This can range from choosing when they take their bath to what shirt they wear for school and everything in between. Offering choices allows your child to be part of the decision making process, making transitions or undesired activities less of a hassle. The more choices, the better.

Provide Clear Expectations & Follow Through

Set clear, concise expectations for your child and follow through with them! Stating expectations before engaging in a specific activity gives the child a set of rules to follow. As a parent you’re able to refer back to these expectations as reminders throughout the activity. Once you set an expectation it should be followed no matter what (this is key!). Remember to provide attention and praise for followed expectations.

Don’t Prompt Too Soon

When your child is engaging in any daily living skills (tooth brushing, setting the table, tying shoes, etc.) allow them to perform the task independently before you assist them. This teaches independence and problem solving. If your child is struggling after 3-5 seconds of attempting, then provide prompting to help them complete the skill. We don’t want to see inappropriate prompt dependency.

Provide directive statements as opposed to questions

Make sure you’re communicating directions clearly. Instead of providing a question, give a directive statement that your child needs to follow. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we’re asking questions instead of directive statements. When asking a question, it gives the child the opportunity to respond with their choice; however, providing a statement only has one appropriate outcome. Changing, “are you ready for dinner?” to “it’s time for dinner” is a quick fix.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)?

What is ABA?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the science of behavior which focuses on the application of behavioral principles in real-world settings such as clinics, schools, and the work place with the aim of improving socially significant behaviors such as behavior problems and learning (Baer, Wolf, & Risley, 1968).

Socially significant behaviors can include:Applied Behavior Analysis

  • Functional communication
  • Receptive and expressive identification
  • Imitation
  • Gross and fine motor skills
  • Activities of daily living
  • Social skills
  • Play skills
  • Reducing/eliminating problem behaviors

How can ABA therapy help my child?

If you are a parent of a child with learning and/or behavioral concerns, ABA can help address and treat these concerns. After an initial assessment of your child, an individualized treatment program will be developed with goals tailored to your child’s specific needs. Progress towards these goals will be constantly monitored, and data will be collected daily for each goal. ABA sessions can take place in your home, in the school, or in a clinic setting.

ABA sessions vary by the child, but typically consist of a combination of table work to work on skill development and natural environment training to generalize those skills to real life situations. Behavior plans are also implemented during ABA sessions to address any behavioral concerns.  ABA sessions that take place in the home can also have a parent training component which allow the parents to learn effective strategies to address their child’s problem behaviors.

What are the qualifications of an ABA therapist?

ABA therapy differs from other disciplines like speech and occupational therapy in that there are usually at least two or more therapists that are part of your child’s treatment team.

A board certified behavior analyst (BCBA), who holds at least a Master’s degree and has attained board certification by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB), conducts the initial assessments, designs and oversees the individualized therapy program, and monitors progress.  A behavior therapist, who has a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree carries out the direct one-on-one therapy sessions with the child. Often times a child may have 2-3 behavior therapists that they work with each week. This is actually very beneficial to the child, as it ensures skills are being generalized across various people.

Misconceptions of ABA

Over the years, there have been many misconceptions about ABA which may cause parents to be hesitant about beginning ABA therapy for their child.

Common misconceptions include:

    • ABA uses punishment and/or aversive items to decrease problem behaviors: Physical punishment is never used in any reputable ABA program. Reinforcement-based strategies are always preferred and utilized over any type of punishment procedure. If punishment is used, it is never used to injure or harm the child. Common punishments include time-out from reinforcement or the loss of a privilege.
    • ABA uses bribery: Bribes are never used in ABA as they are not an effective behavioral strategy. Bribery is ineffective because it used after a negative behavior has already occurred (i.e., If you stop crying, I will give you a cookie). ABA teaches individuals that rewards are contingent on appropriate behaviors (i.e., if I do what my mom says, I will get rewarded).
    • ABA is like animal training for people: This misconception is most likely due to the fact that many therapists use edibles when conducting ABA therapy, especially early on in treatment. Edibles are used due to the fact that food is a very powerful reinforcer. However, the goal is to always to fade out the use of edibles over time and use more natural reinforcers like social praise.
    • ABA is all table work: Yes, most ABA sessions take place at a table, for at least a part of the session. This is because for optimal learning to occur, the individual needs to be focused and attending to what they are learning, and the table is the best place for this. Just as students sit at desks in school, for learning, the same applies during ABA therapy. However, natural environment training, which takes place away from the table, is also a crucial aspect of ABA and should be incorporated into each session.
    • ABA can only be used for children with autism: While ABA is very commonly used for children with autism, it can be used with a wide variety of individuals with or without a diagnosis, in various settings.

NSPT offers Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

References:

Baer, D., Wolf, M., & Risley, T. (1968). Some current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1, 91-97.

Child misbehaving in school

Behavior In The Classroom

Many times children with behavioral concerns, attention issues, emotional concerns, or learning disorders will exhibit negative behaviors within the classroom setting.  Behaviors, by nature, are reasonable and driven by some factor.  The majority of the time, there is a purpose and a reason as to why a child engages in a negative behavior. What this indicates is that it is vital to figure out what the driving force of the behavior was as well as what the consequences of the behavior are.

If a parent or teacher has significant concerns about a child’s behavior, it is truly important to figure out what is going on.  Many times in these situations a Functional Behavioral Analysis (FBA) is required.  An FBAis when some behavioral specialist with the school will go and observe the child over several days and several times during the days.  The individual will first identify the percentage of time the child is off task in comparison to a few peers.  It is always important to have the percentage of off task behavior with several other children in the classroom.  This way there is anecdotal data indicating that child ‘X’ was off task xx% while the other children on average were off task only xx% which could indicate that the child in question actually is off task more than peers.

Child misbehaving in schoolOnce off-task time is established the focus is then on identifying the antecedents and consequences of the behaviors at hand.  There almost always is a driving force (the antecedent) which causes the behavior.  In addition, there usually is a reaction, either positive or negative (consequence), which results in increasing the likelihood of the behavior in the future.

Once the FBA has concluded and information has been disseminated to the team, the next step is to create an action plan to decrease negative behaviors while increasing positive, on-task behaviors.  This is when a functional intervention plan is created.  This plan utilizes the data created by the FBA to set up reinforcement of on-task behaviors, identify triggers and situations that might increase the negative behavior, and set up manageable goals.  A goal must be manageable and attainable.  For example, if a child is off task on average 80% of the day, a goal of being off task 10% of the day would be unrealistic.  What might be established is that with reinforcement and behavioral management, the goal for the first few weeks would be that the child is off task only 70% of the day, then slowly decrease it until the goal is consistent with the amount of time that the rest of the class is off task.

The take home message about behavior in school is that in order to change behavior we have to first identify what the behavior we want to change is, how often it occurs, and why it occurs (what triggers it and what does the child get out of it).

What is Pairing? Advice for Pediatric Therapists

Pairing is a very important part of starting a therapy program with a child.  It helps you, as a therapist, build rapport with the child and establish a pairingrelationship.  When working with a child, one of the main things you want to do is pair yourself with fun and reinforcing items.  You want the child to find you, and the environment, exciting and pleasing.  If the child is having fun and likes being with you, then he will be more motivated to come to therapy to work and play.

6 tips to help with pairing:

  1. Play!  When you first meet a child show him the different toys, games, and activities that are available.  Allow him to play with the different items to familiarize himself. Read more