Understanding more about ABA techniques and strategies

ABA techniques and strategies

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is one of the most commonly recommended treatment options for people with autism spectrum disorder. This kind of therapy is administered by a therapist specializing in autism intervention and focuses on building life skills, language, and relationships that set patients up for success later in life. While ABA is most often used with children, it can also be an effective option for individuals a bit later in life.

The idea behind ABA is that behavior is based on experience. By introducing new environments and feedback to guide patients’ behavior, ABA therapy can do everything from teaching a new word to explaining a new game along with the communication skills that come with it. Research firmly stands behind ABA therapy, too, with many studies exploring the impact it has on people.

As you might expect, there is a lot to understand about this autism treatment technique. While it would be impossible to cover every aspect of this learning model and the therapy techniques used to reinforce it, we can talk about some of the most effective ABA methods used with children. These include:

  • Video modeling
  • Positive/negative reinforcement
  • Prompting and fading
  • Natural environment teaching

These four techniques form the backbone of ABA therapy and at least some of them are used with almost every kind of patient. When combined, they are used to help autistic people improve their focus, social skills, attention, memory, and academics.

Let’s take a closer look at these ABA therapy techniques and how they help create a supportive learning environment that promotes happy, healthy, and effective development. 

Video Modeling

ABA Strategies

Video modeling, also known as visual modeling, is an ABA therapy technique focusing on imitation as a learning strategy. ABA professionals instruct the patient to watch and imitate the desired behavior as they demonstrate it. This strategy is especially helpful for patients who have trouble following and understanding verbal instructions. 

The goal of video modeling is to teach the individual in question to recognize and take action based on visual cues. Video modeling is effective in building social and communication skills, allowing patients to become more independent. 

Positive/negative reinforcement

Positive and negative reinforcement, also known as guidance and correction, is a cornerstone of ABA therapy. It uses consequences to support learning and build desired behaviors. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as introducing a toy or other desired rewards to positively reinforce behavior and assessing undesirable consequences to help minimize problem behavior.

Positive and negative reinforcement, when used in combination with other strategies, is an effective way to achieve goals and promote progress in certain situations. It is often used in conjunction with activities that introduce patients to unfamiliar settings or experiences. Note that verbal praise can also be used as a reward, but not all patients respond to this kind of positive reinforcement. For best results, therapists should assess your loved one’s reaction and tailor their approach to suit their needs.

Prompting and fading

How do you learn new skills and abilities? Chances are good that you received some kind of information about the skill in question. That information served as references for your new behavior. 

Prompting is the task of providing students with information needed to understand a new concept or experience. If you’ve learned to use a new phone, for example, were you given a manual or a diagram? Those are both prompts to facilitate easier skill acquisition and understanding. 

In ABA, teachers provide students with something that cues a desired response. An activity that asks students to read specific words, for example, helps students practice not only language skills but also reading comprehension. 

Fading is the counterpart to prompting. While prompts can help lower the difficulty of acquiring a certain type of skill, they must eventually be phased out to ensure the patient understands the concept on their own. Prompts are gradually faded from the process. 

Prompting and fading are important teaching strategies designed to lower anxiety about learning new things.

Natural Environment Teaching

Natural environment teaching, sometimes known as naturalistic teaching, is a teaching method centered on allowing the student to direct skill learning. This is especially effective for learning motor skills and typically consists of allowing children to play with whatever catches their attention. 

From climbing on a jungle gym to using their hands to roll or even flip over, natural environment teaching goes at the child’s pace. The situation might seem like mere playtime, but patients are learning as they go.

How do professionals build the right plan for my loved one?

What is Applied Behaviour Therapy

The first thing that behavior analysts do is conduct a behavior assessment. Behavior assessments look at the emotions and actions patients exhibit as well as their reaction to therapy sessions and the symptoms that are triggered. They pay attention to body language, too, especially in cases where the patient is nonverbal. Professionals also work directly with caregivers to explore behavior outside of the classroom. All of that data is then collated and used to form a treatment plan. 

Treatment plans guide the process of utilizing therapy services in the ABA program to effect permanent and positive change in patients. They identify current issues along with the steps required to eliminate undesirable behavior and teach better alternatives. Ideally, the plan will change in response to patient reaction and new tasks will be added in areas where improvement is needed.

Benefits of ABA

One of the biggest benefits of ABA interventions is the results that communication training based on ABA can achieve. Nonverbal patients, in particular, can change their behavior significantly over time and show a huge difference in their ability to interact with others after working with behavior analysts for some time. 

If you are a parent of a child with autism or are a loved one seeking treatment for an important person in your life, you’ve come to the right place! We offer parents and caregivers the knowledge they need to make informed treatment decisions.

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