Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) forms the backbone of the work we do at AEIOU Foundation. As an approach strongly supported by evidence for working with children with autism, we should also ensure it forms the backbone of the parent training we provide to build supports and skills in home and community settings.
There are a few key dimensions of ABA especially relevant to point out:
- ABA should be applied to issues of social significance. In order to ensure this, we work in collaboration with each child’s family members and extended network (e.g. teachers) to ensure our goals are in line with issues that benefit the day-to-day lives of the children and families.
- ABA should demonstrate generalisation. We aim to teach behaviours that can be used to good result in different settings, with different people, and without any additional teaching – that is, our children learn when to use what they have learned.
- ABA should be effective. This might seem obvious, but we want our strategies to actually work, and be proven to work.
Taking these key points into account, ABA will improve the quality of life of children with autism and their families.
At AEIOU, we always encourage keeping the lines of communication open. If families, carers and therapists have the same goals and expectations, then the benefit for the child will be tremendous. Two prominent examples we often discuss with families are toilet training and the implementation of Positive Behaviour Support Plans for challenging behaviour. Without family involvement, the success of these will be limited.
But, behaviour analysis isn’t limited to these areas. Not only is ABA an evidence-based approach to teaching children with autism, but evidence also exists to support the use of behaviour analytic principles in a number of other contexts. Think about the topic of health and fitness. Does your personal trainer provide you with encouragement and praise after you’ve achieved a milestone? That’s using the principles of behaviour analysis! Even technology is becoming programmed this way, with fitness trackers praising you when you reach milestones and suggesting when you need to get active.
Behaviour analysis is creeping in to more and more of everyday life. Other examples include:
- Organisational management and staff performance
- Environmental sustainability
- Effective education at all levels (primary to tertiary)
- Online learning
- Criminal forensics
ABA is not a treatment for autism, it is a science of behaviour. As such, it can be used in any context that we live and act within. As long as practitioners and researchers keep the dimensions of behaviour analysis in mind, it will continue to keep them focused on improving quality of life for anybody who accesses ABA services.
For more information on AEIOU Foundation’s program for children with autism which utilises ABA therapies, see our Understanding Autism video series at https://aeiou.org.au/autism-the-early-years, or visit our website at www.aeiou.org.au
About the author: Ian Cronin is a Program Coordinator at AEIOU Foundation and a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA). In his role at AEIOU, Ian provides supervision and training to program managers across AEIOU’s nine centres, continually reviewing the AEIOU curriculum for evidence based quality improvement.