The application of the principles of behavior analysis aims to result in socially significant changes for those individuals to whom it is applied. The effectiveness of ABA resulting in behavior change is backed by many decades of peer reviewed research. The basic principles of this science define all behavior to be a result of its environment, therefore all behavior can be changed by looking at and modifying the environment. Behaviors often targeted for change when working with individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or a traumatic brain injury (TBI) include communication, social skills, play skills, daily life skills, and academic skills. ABA can also target challenging or inappropriate behavior and teaching new more appropriate replacement behaviors.
Implementation of ABA can take several forms, DTT (discrete trial training) generally takes place at an intervention table, with a behavior technician working 1:1 with a child. With DTT there is a large focus on repetition of tasks, utilizing specific teaching techniques designed to result in acquisition of targeted skills. Natural Environment Training (NET) utilizes the principles of ABA in a more natural setting, working on skills incidentally, sometimes as they arise naturally and at times contriving situations in a more natural environment to allow teaching opportunities of the target skills to be functional for the individual. At Behavior Consultants, Inc. (BC), the majority of our clients receive high levels of NET, as our company structure allows us to deliver services where the behaviors naturally occur, however we find that some learners, especially our younger learners, tend to thrive with a combination of DTT and NET and will incorporate both into a treatment program.
Often at BC we receive calls asking if we provide applied verbal behavior therapy or only ABA, so what is the distinction between the two? Applied Verbal Behavior (AVB) places a large emphasis on teaching language as functional units, or operants, as defined by B.F. Skinner in his book, Verbal Behavior. Skinner studied the language development of children, separated the operants by their functions, and determined the sequence in which most children naturally develop language. AVB utilizes the principles of ABA to teach these units of language in the sequence identified by Skinner. AVB therapy is ABA therapy, with a specific focus on language. For those children in which communication is a primary target area, we will utilize Skinners analysis of language and the AVB approach to teaching language.