We use a research based behavioral intervention and instruction program to educate children in their areas of delay, which may include, but are not limited to:
– Language, social and executive functioning skills, behavior management.
– Academics/school readiness, self-help, domestic skills, and vocational skills.
Done correctly, intervention for autism is not a “one size fits all” approach consisting of a “canned” set of programs or drills. On the contrary, every aspect of intervention is customized to each learner’s skills, needs, interests, preferences, and family situation. For those reasons, an intervention program for one learner might look somewhat different than a program for another learner. But genuine, comprehensive research based behavioral intervention and instruction programs for learners with autism have certain things in common:
– Intervention designed and overseen directly by qualified, well-trained professional behavior analysts
– Detailed assessment of each learner’s skills as well as learner and family preferences to determine initial treatment goals
– Selection of goals that are meaningful for the learner and the family
– Ongoing objective measurement of learner progress
– Frequent review of progress data by the behavior analyst so that goals and procedures can be “fine tuned” as needed
– Instruction on developmentally appropriate goals in all skill areas (e.g., communication, social, self-care, play and leisure, motor and academic skills)
– Skills broken down into small parts or steps that are manageable for the learner, and taught from simple (such as imitating single sounds) to complex (e.g., carrying on conversations)
– An emphasis on skills that will enable learners to be independent and successful in both the short and the long run
– Use of multiple behavior analytic procedures – both adult directed and learner-initiated – to promote learning in a variety of ways
– Many opportunities, specifically planned and naturally occurring – for each learner to acquire and practice skills every day, in structured and unstructured situations
– Intervention provided consistently for many hours each week based on the needs of the individual
– Abundant positive reinforcement for useful skills and socially appropriate behaviors
– An emphasis on positive social interactions, and on making learning fun
– No reinforcement for behaviors that are harmful or prevent learning
– Use of techniques to help trained skills carry over to various places, people and times and to enable learners to acquire new skills in a variety of settings
– Parent training so family members can teach and support skills during typical family activities
– Regular meetings between family members and program
Competently delivered, an intervention and instruction program, can help learners with autism make meaningful changes in many areas. But most learners require a great deal of carefully planned instruction and practice on most skills, so changes do not occur quickly. As mentioned earlier, quality programs, based on behavioral intervention and instruction, address a wide range of skill areas, but the focus is always on the individual learner, so goals vary from learner to learner, depending on age, level of functioning, family needs and interests, and other factors. The rate of progress also varies from one learner to the next. Some acquire skills quickly, others more slowly. In fact, an individual learner may make rapid progress in one skill area such as reading, and need much more instruction and practice to master another, such as interacting with peers.
Because of the huge demand for behavior intervention and instruction for autism, many individuals and programs now claim to “do ABA”. Some are private practitioners or agencies that offer to provide services by periodically coming into a family’s home; others operate private schools, and still others provide consultation services to public schools. Not all of them have the education and practical experience that the field of behavior analysis considers minimum requirements for practicing ABA. Family members and concerned professionals are urged to be cautious when enlisting anyone to “do ABA” with a child, youth, or adult with autism.