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Behavior Management Based on ABA

ABA is based on the principles of behavioral approach and utilizes these principles to change socially significant behaviors

From ABA Journal

ABA is based on the principles of behavioral approach and utilizes these principles to change socially significant behaviors. What does ABA target?

  • Teaching new behaviors
  • Strengthening existing behaviors
  • Preventing undesirable behaviors
  • Weakening/extinguishing undesirable behaviors
  • Maintaining the behavioral changes
  • Generalizing the behavioral changes

Reinforcement is the behavioral consequence which increases the future likelihood of the behavior that it follows. If a stimulus is added to the environment in the reinforcement process, this type of reinforcement is called ‘positive reinforcement'. This stimulus is called ‘reinforcer' (i.e., ‘reward'). In order to get the expected result the reinforcer should immediately follow the target behavior, and should be provided only for the target behavior.

Make sure that the reinforcer:

  • has a reinforcing effect on the individual,
  • will not loose its attractiveness in a short while,
  • is delivered according to an effective schedule, and
  • is appropriate for the individual, behavior, and context.

Unfortunately, many undesirable behaviors are strengthened by reinforcement. Some of these reinforcements are conducted without awareness, and some of them are delivered by the rationale that ‘they work'.

Example: Shopping at Supermarket

Kid: I want potato chips.

Mom: No, they are not good for your health.

Kid: But all of my friends eat it.

Mom: No.

Kid: I wanna buy it (yells at mom).          Behavior

Mom: Stop it. OK, I will buy.                      Reinforcer

Kid: Yahoo! (stops yelling).

Shopping at Supermarket: Another Analysis

Kid: I want potato chips.

Mom: No, they are not good for your health.

Kid: Bu all of my friends eat it.

Mom: No.

Kid: I wanna buy it (yells at mom).

Mom: Stop it. OK, I will buy.                      Behavior

Kid: Yahoo! (stops yelling).                       ?

If a stimulus is removed from the environment in the reinforcement process, this type of reinforcement is called ‘negative reinforcement'. This stimulus is called ‘aversive stimulus'.

If a previously reinforced behavior is not reinforced for a certain period; in other words, it is ignored, the behavior weakens.

Example: Shopping at Supermarket

Kid: I want potato chips.

Mom: No, they are not good for your health.

Kid: But all of my friends eat it.

Mom: No.

Kid: I wanna buy it (yells at mom).          Behavior

Mom: ...                                                          ?

The first impact of the extinction process on the behavior is an increase and variation in the behavior.

Example: Shopping at Supermarket

Kid: I want potato chips.

Mom: No, they are not good for your health.

Kid: But all of my friends eat it.

Mom: No.

Kid: I wanna buy it (yells at mom).          Behavior

Mom: ...                                                         Extinction

Kid: I want it! (temper tantrum)

Punishment is the behavioral consequence which decreases the future likelihood of the behavior that it follows. Extinction and punishment should always be delivered in conjunction with positive reinforcement.

Planning Behavior Management

  1. Target behavior is identified.
  2. Target behavior is defined.
  3. Baseline is assessed.
  4. Behavioral objective is determined.
  5. Reinforcers are identified.
  6. Behavioral intervention is planned.
  7. Behavioral intervention is delivered.
  8. Intervention effects are evaluated.
  9. Maintenance and generalization are considered.

1. Identifying Target Behavior

  • A target behavior to be increased or decreased is identified.
  • The behavioral change should be beneficial for the individual!

2. Defining Target Behavior

  • The target behavior is defined in observable terms.
  • The same behavior might be defined differently for different children or different contexts.

Examples:

  • Sitting appropriately
  • Compliance
  • Eating

3. Assessing Baseline

  • The frequency or duration of the target behavior is assessed.

4. Determining Behavioral Objectives

  • A realistic behavioral objective is written.
  • The objective states the conditions for the target behavior and performance criterion.

5. Identifying Reinforcers

  • The child is observed.
  • Significant individuals are interviewed.
  • Formal reinforcer assessments are conducted.
  • Availability and practicality are considered.

6. Planning Behavioral Intervention

If an existing behavior is intended to be increased, the following questions are raised:

  • Which reinforcers will be used?
  • What will be the reinforcement schedule?
  • How will reinforcement be thinned?

If a nonexistent behavior is intended to be taught, the following questions are raised:

  • What will be the approximations of the target behavior?
  • What will be the criterion for changing the level of approximations?
  • Which reinforcers will be used?
  • What will be the reinforcement schedule?
  • How will reinforcement be thinned?

If an undesirable behavior is intended to be decreased, the following questions are raised:

  • Does the target behavior has an alternative?
  • If, yes, the alternative is planned to be reinforced.
  • If, no, extinction or punishment is considered.

7. Delivering Behavioral Intervention

  • The intervention is delivered as planned.
  • The target behavior is assessed during intervention.

8. Evaluating Intervention Effects

  • The intervention is continued if it is found effective.
  • The intervention is modified or changed if it is found ineffective.

9. Considering Maintenance and Generalization

  • Maintenance is achieved by thinning reinforcement.
  • Generalization is achieved by increasing the variability of the materials and contexts.

Golden Rules of Interacting with Children

  • Trying to catch children being good
  • Letting them notice that we catch them being good: Noticing is a very powerful reinforcer for almost everybody!
  • Trying not to pay attention to undesirable behaviors
  • Always keeping in mind that ignoring is a very effective tool for decreasing inappropriate behaviors
  • Being consistent: Having the same behavior result with the same consequence all the time
  • Being patient: Do not giving up when difficulties arise such as the initial effects of extinction
  • Always delivering other kinds of reinforcers with social reinforcers
  • Delivering social reinforcers sincerely and passionately
  • Always keeping promises or promising for what we can actualize
  • Never changing a ‘No' to a ‘Yes' after a temper tantrum

More Stories By Gonul Kircaali-Iftar

Professor Gonul Kircaali-Iftar, one of the leading experts in special education and applied behavior analysis in Turkey, is the founder of Anadolu University's "Research Institute for the Handicapped," the first and only Institute on special education in Turkey. She received her PhD form the University of Toronto in Canada on special education. Her current research interests include providing early and intensive behavioral intervention to children with ASD.

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