What is behavioral therapy?
Behavioral therapy (also known as Applied Behavior Analysis or ABA) is the application of principles and procedures derived from the science of human behavior used to help people form adaptive behaviors and meaningful relationships, effectively communicate, and optimally learn. ABA can refer to many different procedures and has been used to help several different populations including typically developing children and adults, as well as children and adults with varying diagnoses and disabilities.
How can my child benefit from behavioral therapy (Applied Behavior Analysis)?
Typically developing children learn naturally and with ease from the environment they live in without the use of interventions. In this way, the environment they live in provides the necessary and sufficient conditions to learn foundational skills such as: imitation skills, language skills, play skills, and social skills. On the other hand, children with autism learn considerably less from their environments than typically developing children such that normal experiences that teach typically developing children, very often do not effectively teach children with autism. It often takes a very structured learning environment where conditions are optimized for acquiring the same skills that typically developing children learn naturally. Creating this optimal learning environment allows behavior analysts and therapists to teach children with autism the necessary foundational skills for learning and developing language skills.
Why choose Children’s Autism Center?
We understand each child, regardless of developmental disability, is different in the way they learn best. With this knowledge, Children’s Autism Center customizes specific behavior programs based on a child’s needs, not just on what works for other children. We also believe in a well-rounded approach that includes using many different procedures in a child’s program in order to improve the quality of life for our clients and their families. The programs will be constantly adjusted based on the extensive data tracked throughout the child’s day. In addition, due to our facility size, we are able to provide learning across a variety of settings in our one-on-one therapy and social group therapy. Typical ABA procedures at Children’s Autism Center include:
Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI)
Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI) is a particular arrangement of ABA services used with children with Autism. EIBI typically consists of 20-40 hours per week of individualized interventions for children with autism who begin treatment at the age of four years or younger and who usually continue for 2-3 years. EIBI is a promising intervention with considerable scientific support.
Discrete Trial Training (DTT)
Discrete trial training (DTT) is a one-to-one instructional approach used to teach skills in a planned, controlled, and systematic manner. DTT is used when a learner needs to learn a skill best taught in small repeated steps. Each trial or teaching opportunity has a definite beginning and end, thus the descriptor discrete trial. Within DTT, the use of antecedents and consequences is carefully planned and implemented. Positive praise and/or tangible rewards are used to reinforce desired skills or behaviors. Data collection is an important part of DTT and supports decision making by providing teachers/practitioners with information about beginning skill level, progress and challenges, skill acquisition and maintenance, and generalization of learned skills or behaviors.
DTT has been shown to have positive effects on children’s academic, cognitive, communication/language, social, and behavioral skills. DTT can also be used to teach attending, imitation, and symbolic play skills.
Natural Environment Teaching (NET)
Natural Environment Teaching (NET) is a means by which we teach children skills in their natural environment in order to promote generalization of skills learned during Discrete Trial Training (DTT). If natural environment teaching is not done, the child may not generalize learned skills from one environment to another.
For example, a NET situation in the play kitchen may be arranged for a child that is learning to vocally request items. In this NET situation the therapist notices that the child has motivation for a pretend coffee pot. Noticing this motivation, the therapist makes it so that in order for the child to gain access to this toy, which is slightly out of reach, he/she would have to ask for it (assuming that they know the word for the item and are capable of verbalizing this request). When the child sees the toy and reaches for the item, the therapist may initially prompt the request by modeling the word “coffee pot”. If the child says, “coffee pot”, the item would be given to him/her. After multiple trials, prompts are faded until the child would be requesting the object on his/her own.
Social Skills Training
Social skills groups are used to teach individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) ways to appropriately interact with their peers. Social skills groups typically involve small groups of two to eight individuals and a teacher or adult facilitator along with a 1:1 therapist for each child. Most social skill group meetings include instruction, role-playing or practice, and feedback to help learners with ASD acquire and practice skills to promote positive social interactions with peers.
This practice meets evidence-based criteria with six studies (two group; four single-subject design) in the social domain across preschool, elementary, and secondary age ranges.
In the evidence base, social skills group training targeted the following: perspective-taking, conversation skills, friendship skills, problem-solving, social competence, emotion recognition, theory of mind, and problem-solving. In addition, specific interaction skills such as initiation, responding, maintaining, greeting, giving/accepting compliments, turn taking, sharing, asking for help, offering help, and including others were also improved through the use of social skills groups.
To learn more about applied behavior analysis, please visit our Autism Resources page to find more online sources related to behavioral therapy.