A Product of Disability Access: Empowering Tribal Members with Disabilities & Their Families
by Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc.
ABA: One Method for Teaching Children with Autism and other Severe Behavior Disorders
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is very commonly recommended for children with autism, severe mental retardation and other severe disabilities. In short, ABA identifies a specific behavior we want the child to learn, breaks it down into small steps and reinforces each step. For example, if we want the child to learn to put on her own clothes, we might start with giving her a stick of gum when she puts on her own shirt. After she has learned that, we might require that she put on her own pants and shirt before getting a stick of gum, etc.
As each individual behavior must be directly taught, e.g., put on your socks, put on your shirt, put on your pants are all taught individually, ABA can be very time consuming and take a lot of effort from caregivers. SO… the lesson is to choose the behavior to be learned carefully. Is it really important that the child learn to tie his own shoes or can you just have him wear slip-on shoes or shoes with Velcro and spend the time teaching him how to feed himself?
Still, Applied Behavior Analysis is not the simple answer to all the problems of a child with autism. Nothing is. Blastland describes their experiences with his son, Joe. His example demonstrates both the benefits and weaknesses of ABA.
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