Applied Behaviour Analysis

Applied Behaviour Analysisis the process of systematically applying learning principles and evidence based procedures to improve socially significant behaviours. ABA principles are successfully applied in psychology, education, business, sports, medicine, sustainability and many other areas. Research has consistently demonstrated that interventions and educational programs based on Applied Behaviour Analysis are the most effective means of teaching skills to people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

ABA programs are implemented intensively; they involve all aspects of a person’s with ASD life and require commitment from parents and therapists. ABA programs are always individualised and comprehensive. They include teaching communication and social skills, imitation, expressive and receptive language, visuospatial and cognitive development and self-help skills. Functional communication training (FCT) is the major objective of a successful ABA program. During the FCT the child is taught to express their needs and preferences by using socially appropriate means of communication, e.g. language, sign or picture based systems, rather than engaging in problem behaviour. FCT is always based on child’s motivation which in turn guarantees that learning is enjoyable and fun. Adaptive skills are taught by breaking them down into small steps, introducing these gradually and errorlessly. The targets of the program are taught during the structured teaching sessions (e.g. Discrete Trial Training) as well as in the Natural Environment Teaching (NET) where child’s motivation is used to achieve their learning objectives in a play setting. Generalisation training might be essential to ensure that learned skills are transferred to all aspects of daily life. Moreover, consistent management of challenging behaviour is another necessary aspect of the ABA program. Challenging behaviours should be addressed by their exact functions, i.e. following a functional analysis. The intervention will always include pro-active strategies aimed to teach appropriate behaviours and reactive strategies which help to manage the behaviour immediately after its occurrence.

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