Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is an intervention in which the principles of learning theory are applied in a systematic and measurable manner to increase, reduce, maintain, and/or generalise target behaviours. These behaviours include speech and language, social skills including eye contact and turn taking, communication skills including verbal and non-verbal communication, adaptive living skills including toileting, eating, dressing, and play skills including gross motor and fine motor play and social play.
In all ABA programs, the intent is to increase skills in language, play and socialisation, while decreasing behaviours that interfere with learning. Even if the child does not achieve a ‘best outcome’ result of normal functioning levels in all areas, all children with autism benefit from intensive ABA programs.
Discrete Trial Training (DTT) involves breaking down specific skills into small discrete steps which are then taught in a graduated fashion. Children receive positive feedback for their correct responses. DTT and ABA are not synonymous, rather DTT represents one of several ABA teaching strategies.
An Australian Government funded review of the most effective models of practice in early intervention concluded that ‘Evidence-based treatment guidelines are particularly important in the field of autism where there has been so much debate, and where there are many heavily promoted approaches for which there is no scientific evidence, and which can even be harmful. Intensive educational and behavioural interventions such as ABA have produced positive outcomes for children with autism’. (Prior Roberts 2006) www.health.gov.au
Early intervention students at Abacus must attend a minimum of 12 hours and can attend up to 30 hours of ABA therapy per week. Students attending school can attend a minimum of 6 hours per week.
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