ABA early interventions 26 Mar 2019

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Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is often misunderstood. Parents say to me “well you work on behaviour don’t you, so how will that help my child socialise, or communicate?”  What a good question! Let’s look at the history a little to clarify. Behaviour Analysis goes back a long way, but the most revolutionary (in my opinion) was B.F. (Burrus Frederic) Skinner. Skinner was the first to define the Verbal Behaviour Operants, which we have talked about in previous posts (Mands, Tacts, Intraverbals). He was also the first person to accept thoughts as behaviour.

You can count something as a behaviour as long as it is objective, observable by at least one person (hence observing your own thoughts), and measurable – even heart rate is a behaviour. Now that we’ve broadened definition, I can begin to explain what this means for your child and their development.

There’s more to ABA than behaviour in early intervention

ABA early interventions focus on a whole range of skills.  I’m going to break down how these are behaviours.

Vocal Language
  • Vocal language, or speech, is a behaviour that is measurable, observable and able to be objectively defined. ABA works on increasing children’s communication by increasing their repertoire of sounds or words, and providing meaningful functions for these.
  • There are many types of vocal language, labelling items, requesting items and answering and asking questions. Children with Autism sometimes need specific teaching to be able to use the same word in different contexts.
  • Play can be broken down into many, smaller behaviours, which we can then teach into a one big complex behaviour. An easy example would be doing a puzzle; you can measure how many pieces a child can accurately place and teach matching skills to support children identifying which pieces together.

In summary, ABA is definitely focused on behaviour, but that means something different than just looking at tantrums, or problems. Please come and talk to us about what skills we can teach, not just what problems we can help with! You can call the team on 9274 7062.

Jasmin Fyfe

Program Manager, ABACAS