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Applied Behavior Analysis
ABA is used to improve or change specific behaviours in a child or adult to enhance their social, communication and learning skills.
ABA therapy is a flexible treatment with a scientific and functional approach. It is customized to suit individual skills and needs and can be provided in multiple locations – at home, at school and in community.
What is Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA)?
Behaviour is important because it defines us. It affects and is affected by anything or everything around us. Behaviour Analysis helps us to understand how behaviour works – how behaviour is affected or influenced by the environment and how learning takes place in an individual. In Applied Behaviour Analysis(ABA), the analysis happens in real life situations which helps us to understand and modify human behaviour. Therapists aim at encouraging behaviours that are more adaptive and remove/reduce/replace behaviours that are less adaptive.
Why Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA)?
It helps the individual to
- improve communication and social skills
- improve focus, concentration and attention
- improve self-care
- improve memory, academics and play activities
- decrease or stop undesired and problem behaviours
Each child is unique and so are their needs. At Prayatna, our intent is to assist each parent understand their child better. When they understand better, it is easier for them to guide the child to learn and develop desired skills. Our therapists adapt ABA to suit the needs of an individual child to bring meaningful change in his/her behaviour. We make this possible by setting specific and measurable goals.
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How Does ABA Work? Initial Observation and Assessment
Our ABA therapist begins by observing and assessing your child’s skills and unique needs. They will interact with the child to make observations about his/her skills, communication and behaviour. Observation helps the therapist to understand child’s needs and identify the cause/s of challenging behaviours.
What is the treatment plan for ABA
Based on observations, therapist devises concrete treatment plan with goals. These goals are aimed at reducing undesired behaviours such as tantrums and self-injury and improving communication and other desired skills. The plan will also include specific strategies that parents, teachers and family members can utilize to achieve the set goals. Our therapists train parents or caregiver on different techniques that can be deployed. They provide complete support and guidance to help achieve the desired change.
ABA therapists try to unfold the reasons for certain behaviours in order to help the child change or improve them. During the treatment process, therapists continue to monitor and review the child’s progress and adapt their approach depending on child’s response to interventions
Applied Behaviour Analysis utilizes many techniques like functional behaviour analysis, observation of child in different settings etc. for understanding and modifying behaviour.
What is Antecedent Behaviour Consequence?
A-B-C helps in understanding – why a behaviour is happening and how different consequences can affect or influence the likelihood of repeating the behaviour.
Upon close observation and analysis of a child’s activities, ABA therapist determines the cause or the ‘trigger’ that leads to specific behaviours and plans on a consequence that would help to increase or decrease repetition of those behaviours in future. This systematic approach helps reduce problem behaviours and encourage positive behaviours.
For achieving desired change in behaviour, ABA therapists use different techniques which include Positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, prompting and fading, task analysis, generalization, behaviour contracts, video modelling, picture exchange communications teaching, errorless teaching and peer-mediated social skills training.
What is Positive Reinforcement?
Positive reinforcement is one of the main strategies in ABA. When behaviour is followed by a reward that is valued, the person is more likely to repeat the behaviour. This encourages positive behaviour change.
In this technique, first the therapist identifies a goal behaviour. Every time the child exhibits the desired behaviour or skill successfully, he gets a reward – the reward is something the child values, for ex. a toy, praise, time in playground, story time or screen time, colouring etc. This continues to encourage the child to repeat the behaviour which will eventually lead to meaningful behaviour change.
Training for Parents & Family
At Prayatna, our therapists give training to parents and other family members (who interact with the child on a daily basis) to facilitate the child learn and practice the skill/behaviour at home and other places. This helps to bring about a meaningful change in the child’s behaviour and a positive environment at home.
How ABA is used in Autism treatment?
ABA is an evidence-based therapy that is most widely used in today’s world as part of autism treatment. Although autism may vary in its severity in different individuals, the ability to communicate or express in a socially desirable manner has always been noted as a matter of concern in almost all individuals diagnosed with autism. They may also have sensitivity to touch, smell, hearing, taste or sight. A new or unfamiliar territory may trigger and make them agitated and behave inappropriately. Because of their communication difficulties, they fail to express their displeasure or annoyance in an understandable manner. ABA therapists can help these individuals refrain from tantrums or inappropriate behaviours and express themselves in ways that others can understand.
In autism, our therapist can help a child or adult to:
- learn to ask for things clearly and specifically
- reduce or stop harmful behaviours
- reduce tantrum, outbursts and other inappropriate behaviours
- improve basic skills like looking, listening and imitating
- improve communication and social skills
- improve focus and attention
- improve self-care and play activities
How ABA is used in ADHD?
A child or adult with ADHD is generally hyperactive and have difficulty concentrating or controlling their impulsivity. ABA helps in improving focus, attention and concentration skills which eventually helps in better performance at school, play and work. Positive reinforcement techniques assist in bringing about the desired change in their behaviour.
ABA therapists train the individual to think before doing something impulsively. Our therapist trains them to calm themselves, focus on their body and think about what they are about to do before they actually do it. This helps in controlling and reducing their impulsive behaviours.
ABA for Adolescents and Adults
Though the core principles of ABA remain the same for treatment of children and adults, adult ABA is more about life skills, physical health and social interactions that are helpful and meaningful for each individual in their contexts. Some of the ABA strategies adapted by our therapists to ensure desired behaviour in adolescents and adults with neurological disabilities or mental illnesses are listed below. These strategies facilitate learning various skills that help in rehabilitation and vocational training.
Token economy is a method that uses tokens to reinforce the frequency of a target behaviour. Token is an object or symbol which may be a coin, star or an image that can be exchanged for material reinforcers, services or privileges. Material reinforcers may be money, journals, sweets etc.; services may include doing fun activities like watching movie or playing games; privileges may be usage of phone, permission to do an activity that he/she enjoys most. These reinforcers help in realizing target behaviours which may be anything for example, doing self-care activities like washing, following scheduled activities or avoiding disturbing behaviours.
In contingency contracting, rewards, penalties and punishments are defined with the help of a structured and written agreement between two or more members with clear description of the specific behaviour, conditions under which the behaviour will occur and consequences that follow its presence or absence. Therapists may suggest this strategy in families between parents and children to ensure positive behaviours. In a clinical setting therapist uses this strategy with patient to achieve desired results.
In participant modelling, therapist demonstrates effective styles of behaviour in a step-by-step manner and prompts the individual to engage in the behaviour. The patient observes the therapist initially and then follows the instructions with the support and guidance of the therapist. For example, an individual who is scared of dogs, observes the therapist touch or play with a dog. Subsequently, he/she may be inducted on to touch or pet a stuffed dog. In the next step, patient slowly watches a live dog from a distance. Then gradually accompanies the therapist on a brief walk with the dog and eventually moves on to touching and petting a live dog.
Social Skills Training
This helps to strengthen the social skills in individuals who have difficulties in interpreting social cues and understanding when and how to respond to others in a social situation. The deficits in social skills may be a result of developmental disabilities, mental illness or injury. Through social skills training strategies, they learn to manage and develop social behaviours. Therapists aim is to help them make meaningful interpersonal relationships. Different strategies in social skills training include social stories, social scripts, hidden curriculum and comic strip conversations. Our therapists modify and personalize these strategies to suit the individual and the social skill that is being learned.
In shaping, a response is reinforced when it more closely resembles the final expected behaviour. This is designed with the idea that it is possible to generate the desired final behaviour by reinforcing gradual approximations to it. This strategy helps to learn a complex or difficult skill in a gradual manner. In this strategy, the shaper(therapist/guardian) defines the steps to help the patient understand final expected behaviour in a structured way.
This strategy helps the individual to keep a check on oneself, monitor actions and keep a track of their own behaviour. Individualized plans in self-monitoring strategies help to increase independent functioning in all required areas may it be self-help, behaviour, academics etc. In this technique, instead of concentrating on reducing undesired behaviour of an adolescent or adult, focus is on the skills that lead to appropriate behaviour. This leads to decrease in the frequency or intensity of the existing undesired behaviour.
Therapist trains the individual by:
- identifying the target behaviour that needs self-monitoring
- choosing /designing a self-monitoring system
- choosing reinforcers and when and how the individual gets the reinforcer
- teaching the individual self-monitoring procedures
After training and initial monitoring, therapist fades his/her role in the intervention process and allows the individual to do the self-monitoring all by self.