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What is Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)?

The underlying principle in ABA is that behavioral changes can be brought about by positive reinforcement.  According to Dr. Skinner, one of the earliest researchers on ASD, behavior that is reinforced tends to rewire our brains and becomes a habit. Children adapt to certain behaviors through repetitive trainings from the primary caregivers.

 ABA is an evidence-based method used to inculcate the desired behavior by breaking down the tasks into smaller steps in a systematic manner. It involves sensory stimulation with expected ASD responses followed by immediate feedback, positive reinforcement and systematic instruction to regulate behavior to new situations and environments.

The highly structured format meets the inherent needs of an ASD child, who respond well to routine. The techniques can be used in day to day situations (e.g., during mealtime at home or play), structured situations (e.g., formal instruction in a classroom setting), and in one on one as well as group instruction setting.

Examples of different types of ABA include the following:

Discrete trial training (DTT): This training has five parts – 1) cue, 2) prompt, 3) response, 4) consequence, 5) inter-trial interval.

The tasks are broken down into simpler parts with positive reinforcement at every stage being used to reward a desired response or behavior. Undesired responses are not encouraged.

Verbal Behavioral intervention (VBI): VBI focuses on teaching verbal skills and communication by teaching the child to associate words with their purpose or simply making a request such as pointing at the objects or things.

Pivotal response training (PRT): PRT is based on enhancing a child’s motivation to learn and perform skills that have positive consequences Any positive changes in behavior should cause widespread effects in other developmental areas. It trains ASD children and adolescents to respond to multiple cues than just a specific detail.

REFERENCES
  1. Applied Behavioral Analysis Program Guide. What is Pivotal Response Treatment? https://www.appliedbehavioranalysisprograms.com/faq/what-is-pivotal-response-treatment/
  2. Hopebridge Autism Therapy Centres. What is autism and how does ABA therapy work? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBB_81ao7uo
  3.  Medavarapu, S., Marella, L. L., Sangem, A., & Kairam, R. (2019). Where is the Evidence? A Narrative Literature Review of the Treatment Modalities for Autism Spectrum Disorders. Cureus, 11(1), e3901. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.3901
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