At Autism and Behavior Services, we only implement the most scientifically-validated programs for improving language and communication skills. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the science to understanding and improvement of human behavior, which focuses on objectively defining observable behaviors of social significance (Cooper, Heron & Heward, 1987). The extensive use of applying behavioral techniques in teaching children with Autism (and related disabilities) to communicate has shown significant results. Teaching children to communicate is based upon Skinner’s Analysis of Verbal Behavior and over 20 years of empirical research in the journal, The Analysis of Verbal Behavior. Skills are broken down into its components, and then taught through a specific system of prompting and reinforcement, therefore setting the child up for success. As the child begins to master a skill, prompts are faded until the child can do the skill independently. We collect empirical data to direct us in analyzing treatment decisions. All programs are developed and monitored by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).
School District Consultation
Many people feel that students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and related disabilities can only receive appropriate and high quality intervention when private or non-public agencies provide direct service. We believe that students with ASD and related disabilities can receive high quality and effective instruction in the public schools and that existing staff can be very successful teaching these students. We want to assist the public school staff learning and developing skills that will allow them to be extremely effective teachers for students on the Autism Spectrum so that students may be educated in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) possible. As the number of students identified with Autism continues to climb, there is a great need to prepare for their educational needs to build the capacity within the public education to meet the needs of these students. Teacher training alone is not enough. A supportive infrastructure must also be established that will allow trained professional to implement the best practices. We want to assist administrators and special education teams in developing a supportive yet cost effective infrastructure so that best practices can be implemented in public school settings.
ABS conducts workshops on a range of intervention topics. These can be tailored to a specific audience (e.g., parents, school personnel, administrators). Popular topics include: Behavior Interventions, Pivotal Response Training, Teaching Language, Play and Social Skills, Self-Management and Reducing Problem Behaviors.
Before we start behavioral therapy, an assessment is completed. ABS currently offers two different assessments. The first assessment is The Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills-Revised (The ABLLS-R), developed by Partington (2006). It is utilized to assess the current language skills of the child, and determine all skill deficits across each verbal domain. The second Assessment is The Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program: The VB-MAPP is a criterion-referenced assessment tool, curriculum guide, and skill tracking system that is designed for children with autism, and other individuals who demonstrate language delays. The VB-MAPP is based on B.F. Skinner’s (1957) analysis of verbal behavior, established developmental milestones, and research from the field of behavior analysis. (www.marksundberg.com/vb-mapp.htm). Please ask us about other assessments.
Functional Behavior Assessment
The first step in developing a valid behavioral treatment plan is to determine why the problem behavior occurs. This assessment is vital in determining what treatment to implement in order to effectively decrease the problem behavior. This assessment has two components: a functional assessment interview, in which the Behavior Analyst will ask you specific questions about the problem behavior, and direct observations will be conducted. Then Behavior Analyst will actually try to arrange situations in order to provoke the problem behavior to occur. Although this may seem unusual, it is necessary in order to accurately determine what the maintaining function of the behavior is.
Behavior Intervention Plan
Once a formal assessment has been conducted, and a treatment plan has been developed, the child’s caregivers are trained on how to collect data and implement the behavior protocols. Precise training is done so that the caregiver’s are able to effectively manipulate the environment in order to decrease inappropriate behaviors, and teach appropriate replacement behaviors.
Parent and Caregiver Training
In order for behavioral therapy to be effective, it is essential that all people who interact with the client are trained on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. Our goal as behavior analyst is to work ourselves out of our job, which means we want to empower all caregivers with behavior techniques and procedures so they can implement these techniques without assistance from a professional. We view caregivers as an essential part of assessment, treatment planning, and treatment. In order to help improve the quality of life for the child and family, we will provide caregiver training through different modes such as reviewing written material, modeling, and coaching. Treatment goals will be targeted in all environments to assist with generalization of skills. Some of the areas of the training includes: arranging the environment to support independence, being a responsive communication partner for the child, supporting the client’s engagement and language development, teaching the child new skills, responding to problem behaviors, and collecting data.