5 Common Components of Applied Behaviour Analysis for Children with ASD
Applied Behaviour Analysis or ABA is a common therapeutic technique used in behaviour modification, and is proven to be most effective in children in the autism spectrum. There are also specific components that are crucial to any quality ABA program.
To gain a better understanding of ABA, we will discuss the five common components used in ABA sessions. Let’s take a closer look at each of them below.
1. Task analysis
Task analysis is defined by the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders as “a teaching process that breaks down complex activities into a series of simple steps that students are able to learn more easily.” Behavioural therapists then teach those steps according to the child’s learning capacity until he or she can complete the task without assistance.
Task analysis is also an evidenced-based practice that is frequently used to teach self-help, develop appropriate communication skills, and other adaptive abilities. With positive reinforcement, the child can be trained to continue using these new skills in the future.
In a TASK ANALYSIS, behavioural therapists select the appropriate teaching method and customise it based on the child’s:
- learning style
- history of what has and has not worked
- Individual Education Plan (IEP)/Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP)
- and environments within which he or she functions
It can get frustrating for parents and the children themselves to foster positive behaviours in children with autism. Chaining is one tool that can help build a successful outcome.
Chaining involves small steps that must be taken sequentially to complete a task which allows ease of understanding and learning. For example, when teaching a child how to brush his teeth, he must take the toothpaste from the cabinet, open the lid, squeeze it onto his brush and so forth.
According to some behavioural therapists, chains are like recipes. People who would have no concept of baking bread rely on recipes to show them the step-by-step process. In the same way, children with autism learn to complete basic tasks which is more beneficial for them because the process is broken down into parts.
Task analysis and chaining can be combined. Before chaining, a task analysis must be done first to determine what behaviours should be associated with each other. During your child’s sessions, the behavioural therapist will determine which method of chaining works best based on his or her characteristics. The goal is to foster independence as the child completes the entire chain.
Prompts are instructions, demonstrations, gestures, or other things that will serve as a nudge or a reminder that will increase the likelihood that a child will make a correct response. This approach can help avoid frustrations and meltdowns during the learning process.
Without prompting, a child with ASD may get frustrated in the process of fulfilling certain tasks while undergoing ABA therapy. Frustration can trigger negative behaviours to return which can lead to setbacks. Basically, this approach relies on reinforcing correct responses that are prompted.
4. Prompt Fading
A lot of kids with autism tend to be prompt-dependent. But it’s not the child’s fault as prompt dependency can stem from well-meaning adults who are trying to help the child gain skills, but have not faded these prompts quick enough.
Ultimately, you want your child to feel secure in completing skills on their own. Therefore, prompt fading is an essential component of ABA Therapy because it weans the child from being too dependent on prompting to complete a desired task. This is systematically done until your child can perform new skills on his or her own.
Even for adults, small changes are easier to make than large ones. The same is true for children in the autism spectrum. To help them overcome that struggle, rewarding is a form of positive reinforcement where attempts to complete a skill is encouraged until the child can perform the action or skill independently.
However, the child must be able to display the improvement consistently for the reward to be given. Some examples of rewards can be a Hi-5, verbal praises, a treat, tickles, playing bubbles, etc. The chosen reward will be based on what motivates the child.
The child’s usual performance would not receive positive acknowledgement, instead the therapist will highlight regular improvement. The reason for it is that positive reinforcement strategically encourages the individual to work towards mastering a skill.
These components are essential so that ABA Therapy can foster its intended effect. A successful program will help increase the skill levels of the child to the extent that the program is no longer required for them to function in a typical setting. For one-on-one sessions in the comfort of your own home, you can get in touch with us, here.
Read more about ABA Therapy:
6 Common Autism Treatment Options Available in Singapore