APPLIED BEHAVIOUR ANALYSIS (ABA)
The Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is an intensive and interpersonal method that is dedicated to teaching basic learning skills, reinforcing personal motivation and building on pro-existing basic skill in order to reinforce complex skills and functionality in the patient.
ABA’s effectiveness is supported by a broad research data base on a broad diagnostic spectrum, including children with behavioral problems (i.e. autism) and children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
According to the findings of numerous research studies, children suffering from autism and behavioural problems may be taught to acquire various skills (e.g. communication, play, social interaction, academic etc.) and “difficult” types of behaviour (e.g. self-injury, aggressiveness) may be limited after the application of the ABA principles.
Some of the basic characteristics of an intervention program based on the ABA principles:
The use of reinforcers: Many children with special needs are not motivated by the behaviours that normally motivate typically developed children (by a “bravo” from their parents, by mimicking their friends or by completing a task alone). For the education of these children, ABA is implementing scientific principles such as the principle of reinforcement in order to reinforce the development of “positive” behavioural habits (e.g. eye contact, communication) in order to treat and limit the “negative” behavioural habits (e.g. aggressiveness, refusal to follow orders).
Task analysis: Some children need more repetitions in order to learn to execute complex activities (e.g. to brush their teeth, to tie their shoe laces, to write the letters of the alphabet). Therefore, it is necessary to break down complex activities into simpler steps that are systematically taught one by one.
Functional behavioural assessment: When a child is exhibiting “difficult” behavioural patterns (e.g.aggressiveness, stereotypes), it is necessary to carefully observe such a behaviour and to collect data in order to determine what is causing it (e.g. a way to attract the attention of the parent or to avoid getting involved in activities that s/he is not happy with). The aim of the intervention is to teach the child alternative ways of behaviour, that are socially acceptable and serve the same purpose, to teach the child to accept negative circumstances etc).
Data collection helps the recording of the progress of the child and the rate of learning. When the progress is not assessed to be satisfying, the method of intervention is re-assessed in order to make all necessary changes that need to be followed.
The decision of what is the most appropriate method and aim of the intervention is always based upon the needs of the child and the child’s family. In order for the ABA program to be successful, it need to be individually based ad to take into account the child’s developed abilities as a whole in various environments (e.g. the child may exhibit the same behaviour in school and at home) when different people are involved (e.g. therapist, parent, teacher). The family is given guidance as for their more effective relationship with the child, in order to respond to the communicative, social and behavioural needs of the child.