Important for day-to-day activities
- Communicating wants and needs
- Daily living skills (e.g., brushing teeth)
- Social skills
Generally, it is optimal for clients to receive treatment five days a week. For instance, a client receiving 25 hours of treatment per week could work with a registered behavior technician for five hours per day, Monday-Friday. However, our staff are always willing to work with families to find the best way to obtain the medically recommended level of treatment.
To help clients acquire the skills they need to be successful, the work of our staff is guided by the core dimensions of ABA.
Our behavior analysts work with families to develop behavioral treatments that:
Focus on observable changes that are meaningful to clients and their families
Measure their effects using data to ensure clinical recommendations are the reason a client is making progress
Are thoroughly described to allow families and other professionals to follow the clinical recommendations
Are based on the evidence of scientific research
Produce changes in behavior that make a difference in the client’s lives
Result in changes that are observed across all meaningful environments
Applied behavior analysis focuses on the relationship between behavior and the environment in which it occurs. The term environment is used broadly to refer to the behavior of others, items, and sensory input. To illustrate the relationship, the learning process is viewed through the three-term contingency.
An easy way to remember the learning process is the ABC’s of Learning.
The antecedent is the state of the environment before the behavior occurs.
Events in the antecedent affect motivation and over time specific actions or items signal when to use and when not to use a specific behavior.
Behavior is the action of the person. Anything a person does, like walking, jumping, or sleeping, is a behavior.
The consequence is the state of the environment after the behavior occurs.
Events in the consequence affect the likelihood of a behavior happening again in the future.
If a behavior happens more often after a consequence, it is called a reinforcer. If a behavior happens less often after a consequence, it is called a punisher.
To illustrate the learning process, two brief examples are presented below.
Example 1: Imagine a young boy named, Fred, who walks into the living room to see his father. He wants to be picked up but has not yet developed the language skills to stay “Pick me up”. Fred stands in front of his father, but he is not picked up because he hasn’t communicated what he wants. After a few seconds, Fred’s father looks at him and says, “Hey Fred, what do you want?”. Fred then extends his arms above his head and reaches for his father. As he engages in this behavior, his father picks him up.
The next time Fred walked into the room, he immediately extended his arms over his head and reached for his father. Based on this observation, a behavior analyst would say that Fred’s reaching behavior was reinforced by being picked up.
The processes that affect learning do not differ between behaviors that help or hinder our everyday activities. An example of how a behavior that negatively affects a person is learned is presented below.
Example 2: Fred and his father have just finished shopping at a local grocery store. With Fred sitting in the cart, his father pushes it towards the front of the store where the cashiers are located. After standing in line, Fred sees his favorite type of candy and reaches for it. His father responds by saying, “Fred, you can’t have candy before dinner.” which results in a tantrum. His father asks him to stop crying but it has no effect on Fred’s behavior. After a minute, other people standing in line begin to look at Fred and his father. In an effort to stop the crying and exit the grocery store as quickly as possible, Fred’s father hands him the candy bar, which results in Fred no longer crying.
The next time the father and son approach the checkout line, Fred begins to cry. Based on this observation, a behavior analyst would say that Fred’s crying was reinforced by gaining access to a candy.
Fred wants to be picked up
Fred is not able to reach the candy bar
Fred extends his arms over his head and reaches for his father
Fred is picked up
His father hands Fred the candy bar
(Fred can reach the candy bar)
It’s important to note that learning does not always occur that quickly and the amount of time it takes a person to learn something varies person-to-person and can also depend on the behavior.
Teaching appropriate behavior is difficult, especially when it occurs during on-going activities, like trips to the grocery store.
Our clinicians understand the complexities of teaching new skills. Through their extensive training and hands-on experience, the staff at CCABA has the skills to support families by:
Early Signs of Autism Marcus Autism Center
Identification, Evaluation, and Management of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Hyman et al. (2020)
Screening and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder for Healthcare Providers Centers for Disease Control and Prevention