Applied Behavior Analysis is a well-rounded service based on the science of behavior. While ABA has a large focus on autism, it is truly an all-encompassing practice that can benefit everybody.
Analysis is the primary aspect, proving that when we understand the functions of behavior, we can then apply strategies to make a positive change, using systems of reinforcement.
Since ABA is an evidence-based practice, we are always progressing to best match the needs of those we serve.
Working with Everybody
This may include individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, behavioral and emotional disorders, or any challenge relating to social wellness and self-sustainability.
We work with students of all ages and incorporate parent training. Our intervention is considered 1:1 because one instructor works with one student at a time. But our scope is much broader than 1:1.
Each of our clients will work with a team of instructors and supervisors who implement individualized plans in a diverse way. We also work directly with family members, schoolteachers, district staff, social workers, and the community.
Client, Family, and Culture Based Approach
We include the whole family and consider their priorities first to shape a plan that works best for each client. Most importantly, we are empathetic to family and cultural practices.
With each home we enter, we aim to be respectful and accommodating to the family’s lifestyle. With each classroom we assist, we learn the teacher’s expectations as well as the school culture, while contributing our own unique skillset. And with each client we work with, we strive to associate with their favorite items and activities, allowing us to follow their lead and encourage their sense of independence.
Our goal is to find what works best for each client based on themself, their family, and their daily environment.
What Do We Do?
There are two sides to what we do: one part includes observation & analysis, and the other includes teaching & intervention.
We undertake self-help skills, motor skills, language acquisition, educational aid, as well as socialization, communication, cognitive and play skills.
We aim to help our clients advocate for themselves in areas that are relevant to their life. Our clients may not always be able to tell us how they are feeling or what they need. At times families may feel overwhelmed or stressed, so we work together on a plan that best supports their individual needs.
We form these plans by taking a wholistic view of each client, then choose specific goals based on input from the family, developmental assessments, and other resources that provide context into our client’s daily routines.
Furthermore, we welcome parents and family members to participate during session. Our staff are happy to share strategies with parents and guide them through our techniques. This way, our clients and their families can naturally incorporate goals and strengthen bonds outside of session.
Yet, we could not carry out our service without following the first principle of the scientific method: observation.
In order to know what actions to take, we spend time observing and annotating cause and effect. It is important to note that while we do observe, we never judge. We understand that everybody is different, and many factors contribute to an individual’s behavior.
Our observations allow us to treat each client with dignity and specificity, because there is no “one size fits all” in this industry. Subsequently, we record data as we implement personalized goals. It may sound rigorous, but we do this to know whether our strategies are successful or not.
Objective data shows us where we need to make changes in our own approach, as well as monitoring the progress that our clients make.
Knowing Your Team
Behavior Instructors are the regular providers of 1:1 session. The instructor’s responsibility is to implement a program of goals designed by their supervisor, a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). You may hear instructors referred to as behavior technicians, behavior interventionists, behavior aides, and unofficially as teachers, therapists, or coaches. However, instructors certified as Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT) uphold specific accreditation via the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.
The BCBA is the primary supervisor who creates and oversees an effective individualized plan for each client and possesses expert knowledge relating to behavioral wellness. The BCBA will utilize direct and indirect assessments to create these individualized treatment plans. This role may also be performed by a BCaBA (Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst). BCaBAs require monthly supervision from a BCBA to maintain compliance with the certification board.
In some companies such as ABAEF, a Clinical Supervisor oversees the training and capacity of all these positions, and possesses a BCBA credential along with a Master’s degree or higher (usually in Psychology, Sociology, or Education).
Unless you are going for one of these roles yourself, do not worry too much about the logistics. The main point is there is a team of qualified specialists who take universal knowledge about human behavior and apply it to individuals in a customized way.
The most successful ABA practitioners do this across cultural and linguistic realms because we work with everybody in the great melting pot. Many of us are bilingual communications experts.
This experience is a continuous feedback loop between clients, families, instructors, clinical supervisors, and public services. Because the scope of our work is so vast and sensitive Ethics, Professionalism, Confidentiality, and Compassion are paramount.
Behind the Scenes
Our roster would not be complete without the administrative team that coordinates client intake, community outreach, and a hefty scheduling load. We want to help as many people as possible – advancements in access to education and social services means we now have more clients than ever.
Thanks to a cohesive team effort we have many opportunities to help individuals and serve our communities.
The Bigger Picture
ABA has the potential to break stigmas, empower families, and bridge gaps within a diverse society. Not everybody knows about ABA, and those who do often think only about autism. The truth is that ABA can be for everybody. Applying the science of behavior helps us cultivate life skills, adapt to a world full of stimulation, and form ways to communicate with those around us.
It is essential to remember that we all need help, nobody can be 100% independent, and every little bit makes a difference. Growth is challenging, but the goal is to have more good days and develop skills to handle the hard days.
When this network of care is implemented properly, ABA can empower individuals, lessen stigmas against one another, and encourage a more harmonious way to coexist.
After all, we are in this together!