The following information addresses some of the most common questions we get about Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA). If you have further questions, please feel free to contact us!
Q: What is ABA?
Applied Behaviour Analysis is the natural science of studying behaviour. It is most widely recognised for its effectiveness as an intervention associated with autism. However, the principles and methods of behaviour are universal and have been applied effectively in many areas. Some examples of applications include: weight loss, smoking cessation programmes and increasing productivity in the workforce.
Since the early 1960’s, applied behaviour analysis has been used to build communication, play, social, academic, self-care, work, community living skills and to reduce problem behaviours.
Some ABA techniques involve instruction that is directed by adults in a highly structured fashion. Other techniques make use of the learner’s natural interests and follow his or her initiations. All skills are broken down into small steps or components. Learners are provided many opportunities to learn and practice skills in a variety of settings, with abundant positive reinforcement.
Q: How are ABA goals developed?
The goals of intervention is developed based on the strengths and needs of the individual person. This is also the case for the specific types of instructions and reinforcers used. Progress is monitored continuously by direct observation. If the learner is not making satisfactory progress the strategies are modified.
The goal is to enable the person to be as independent and successful as possible in a variety of environments. This is regardless of the age of the individual.
Individuals who deliver ABA have completed coursework and specialised training in the area, and are credentialed as Board Certified Behaviour Analysts (BCBA). At present, Reach Children’s Services has two fully qualified BCBAs. They are available to provide a range of behaviour analytic services to include:
- Development and Supervision of home programmes
- Functional Behaviour Assessments for challenging behaviour
- Early Intervention
- Programme consultation to preschools and schools
- Trainings & Workshops covering various topics
Q: What is a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA)?
A BCBA is a professional with verified education and supervised experience in the field of Applied Behaviour Analysis. The BCBA must also pass a rigorous exam demonstrating knowledge of core principles. The field is regulated internationally by the Behaviour Analyst Certification Board.
BCBAs work in many different fields and settings, and may have other academic degrees as well. For example, there are Educators, Psychologists, Speech and Language Therapists, and Occupational Therapists who are also BCBAs.
This is because the science of ABA is ultimately concerned with creating positive change in meaningful behaviours. ABA relies on effective teaching practices. BCBAs can help implement programmes designed to improve a wide range of skills required in daily life. These skills include feeding, toileting, academic and organizational skills, as well as language and communication skills.
Q: Does the BCBA work directly with my child?
The answer to this question really depends on the unique needs of the child or individual and aims of the intervention. When addressing behaviours of concern, it is generally more important to observe, understand and address behaviour in the setting or context in which it occurs.
It can be common enough for behaviors to occur in one setting, but not another. For example, a child may display difficult behaviours at home but not with teachers or therapists. Conversely, behaviour may not be difficult at home, but may present as challenging in school or other settings. For this reason, behaviour support services typically involve observation in the natural environment. Following this, advice and guidance is provided to carers in the most relevant setting. Often, this involves the Behaviour Analyst interacting with the child directly, and ‘testing’ or demonstrating strategies for carers.
The Behaviour Analyst may also recommend a series of individual sessions where challenging behaviour is frequent and pervasive. This will allow the therapist to systematically evaluate strategies in a safe and supervised setting.
In instances where the focus is on building or teaching specific skills, our Behaviour Analyst may work with the child directly. This is usually for a specific block of sessions, as agreed between the family and BCBA.
Whatever the plan, know that you will be an active participant in shaping the plan all throughout.
Q: So, where is behavioural support provided?
Our BCBAs travel to home, school and community settings. This ensures we have the opportunity to observe and understand behaviour in the natural context. Because of this, we are able to provide this service in many counties across Ireland.
Q: Do you only work with children with an autism diagnosis?
ABA is known mainly for its effectiveness with children with autism but the answer to this question is no. It is not just for autism, nor is it only for children. ABA has been proven successful in all settings with people of all ages. Some areas include: communication skills, academics, toilet training, rehabilitation after stroke and smoking cessation.
Q: Can I claim Behavioural Services on my end of year med 1 form?
Of course, the Revenue would be the best source to answer this question. Our understanding is that services delivered by a BCBA cannot be claimed unless the services were prescribed by a GP (General Practitioner).