Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a therapy which relies on science of learning and behavior. Such an analysis is important in understanding how works, how it affected by the environment and the mechanisms involved in the learning process. The ABA therapy is based on the understanding of behavioral patterns in real situations. Autism refers to a condition of neural development disorder that is characterized by a compromised social and communication interfaces as well as repetitive and limited behavior. These characteristics are noticeable in a child before he or she attains three years of age. Autism affects the information processing capabilities of the brain by reorganizing the nerve cell connections and their synapses. Nevertheless, the description of how this procedure takes place is not copiously comprehended. The two autism spectrum disorders (ASD) include PDD-NOS and Asperger syndrome (Miltenberger, 2016). While the former is diagnosed when the full criteria for the other conditions fail to be met, the latter is diagnosed by the delays in the cognitive development.
The conditions are prevalent in a country with approximately 2 out of every 1000 people being autistic. Besides, studies show that there is a 25 % increase in the disorder in men than in women (Miltenberger, 2016). The total number of individuals who are diagnosed with the condition has been on a prompt increase since for the past four decades, and the rise is partly attributed to the modifications in diagnostic practices. The condition in noticeable in the first two years of a child’s life and one of the behaviors noticeable in individuals suffering from autism is repetitive movements like running, snipping and rocking back and forth. Therefore, early diagnosis and intervention can assist in improving the child’s development.
Methodologies Used to Define Repetitive Behaviors of Autistic Children
It is challenging to diagnose the autism spectrum of disorders due to their insidious nature. The condition’s symptoms manifest sluggishly and gradually, and parents are rarely enthused to assume the worst about their children’s unusual comportment and signs until they can no longer be ignored (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007). While an experienced eye might notice repetitive behaviors early on, most parents often fail to bring their children in for formal diagnosis until they attain the age of between eighteen months and three years. With an increase in awareness concerning pervasive developmental disorders, more physicians and parents learn what to look for. In this regard, more children are diagnosed at earlier ages with the help of the techniques and methods for recognizing pervasive developmental disorders as they continue to be advanced.
Conventionally, behavioral observation has been the most prevalent method for recognizing autism and related prevalent developmental conditions. Specialists notice lack of social reciprocity and eye contact in children (Cooper et al., 2007). They identify the incidence of the typecast repetitive movements that are often present in children with autism and related syndromes. Physicians look for delays in the child’s development or communication and language skills regression.
Stereotypically, the diagnosis process unfolds a systematic process. The parents first show concern about a child’s developmental delays or a typical behavior (Kodak, Grow, & Northrup, 2004). They then take him or her to see a pediatrician who carries out a medical exam and determines the symptoms consistent with a PDD. Lastly, the physician will then frequently refer the family to inexpert in the field for further assessment.
How ABA Measures Repetitive Behaviors
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) refers to an intervention approach creating a noteworthy advancement in social human comportment. Applied Behavior Analysis is based on many techniques for studying any changes in behavior. ABA is a treatment which can be altered to meet needs of a unique disease condition and in different location. It can be applied in situations involving one to one or a group situation. The besieged behavior to change might have real-life effects for the individual (applied), the behavior is evaluated by carrying out organized observations and assessments (behavior), and the behavior is examined in detail within the setting to identify inducing factors (analysis).
The universal supposition is that by controlling environmental factors, behavior can accordingly be transformed in a more effective manner, resulting in an improved or desired behavior (Falcomata, Roane, Feeney, & Stephenson, 2010). Therefore, behavioral evaluation centers on training new behaviors, impacts the level and frequency of current behaviors, or eradicates certain ineffectual characteristics. The purpose is to identify the definite function of behavior by assessing it constantly over a prolonged period. Hence, the interactions are broken down into three main functions including antecedents, behavior, and consequences.
The focal process characteristically involves teaching academic, linguistics, social skills, cognitive abilities, and adaptive living expertise across all settings. ABA breaks down all these abilities into sole lesser tasks, which are then imparted in a vastly organized, unswerving, and categorized fashion (Falcomata et al., 2010). Emphasis is placed on re-enforcing desired behaviors and redirecting, ignoring, or discouraging unwanted characteristics. ABA contributes to a wide array of areas including health, education, mental procedures, as well as exercise. ABA-based mediations are applied to treat individuals with a broad array of diverse behaviors and diagnosis, especially autism spectrum disorders (ASD) (Miltenberger, 2016). In this regard, ABA plays a significant role in addressing autism-related behaviors in affected individuals.
ABA-Related Treatment Methodologies in Repetitive Behavior
Discrete Trial Learning
The training is founded on the appreciation that practice assists a child grasp a skill. The process involves a designed therapy that applies a one-to-one coaching design with intensive erudition of explicit behaviors. The rigorous learning of a particular comportment is referred to as a “drill.” Drills aid in learning since they encompass repetition. A child under the program completes a task numerous times in the same fashion (Kodak et al., 2004). The repetition is expressly essential for children who may require a great deal of practice to master an expertise. Moreover, repetition assists in reinforcing long-term memory. Specific behaviors such as focused attention, eye contact, and facial expression learning are broken into their unpretentious forms, and then methodically impelled or guided. Children obtain positive reinforcement, for instance, verbal praise, high-fives, and gifts such as toys for exhibiting desired conducts (Miltenberger, 2016). For example, if an expert and an autistic child are seated at a table and the psychiatrist asks the child to pay attention by asking him or her to look up, then the child is rewarded by a high five if he or she complies.
Incidental Teaching (or Natural Environment Training)
The training is founded on comprehending that it is significant to offer real-life meaning to the abilities anautistic child is learning. The process involves a focus on coaching the skills in an environment where the child will certainly apply them. Utilizing an individual’s natural setting in therapy can assist in increasing the transference of skills to ordinary situations and helps simplification (Kodak et al., 2004). In this remedial intervention, the therapist employs logically occurring opportunities in a bid to assist the child in learning behavior regulation. The setting or activity used is chosen by the child, and the trainer follows the child’s interest or lead. The purpose of developing these teaching strategies were to enable generalization and, in the process, to make the most of reinforcement. Once an expert identifies the naturally occurring situations capturing the child’s interest, the trainer then applies advanced stimuli to boost responses from the child (Kodak et al., 2004). For instance, a child is playing on the swings and wants the specialist to push him or her several times without concern for other activities. The specialist has to decide when it is time for the individual to move to other initiatives. The process is repeated, and the therapist has to respond when the child spends a lot of time doing the same thing.
The treatment intervention is similar to distinct trial training since it is an intensive, structured, and a one-on-one therapy. The process differs from discrete trial training as it is intended to stimulate a child to acquire language through the development of a connection between a word and its connotation (Lang et al., 2010). Teaching a word or a label to some autistic children mistake account of a deliberate focus on training them how to use the new world functionally. For instance, the trainer should ask the child “What is this? A cup. What do you use a cup for? Drinking. What do you drink out of? A cup.” In such a manner, the child’s chances of grasping the word and its use increases.
Pivotal Response Training (PRT)
The treatment method is a naturalistic and loosely designed intervention that depends on logically occurring training consequences and opportunities. The focus of PRT is purposed to augment incentive by adding modules such as reinforcing attempts, turn-taking, child-choice, and interposing pre-learned tasks (Lang et al., 2010). The procedure retracts the attention from areas of scarcities and conveys the focus to particular key areas that are perceived to be critical for an extensive range of functioning in autistic children. Experts have identified four pivotal areas including motivation, child self-initiations, self-management, as well as responsiveness to numerous signs. Specialists suggest that when these areas are endorsed, they enhance advancement in various non-targeted behaviors (Lang et al., 2010). For instance, the “Early Start Denver Model” is an interactive inter position model applicable to children as young as 18 months of age. Therefore, the model has a sturdy prominence on Pivotal Response Training.
Natural Language Paradigm (NLP)
The treatment intervention is based on the comprehension that learning can be facilitated by the thoughtful organization of the setting in a bid to enhance the opportunities for language use. NLP places emphasis on the child’s initiative. Moreover, it applies natural reinforces that are outcomes linked unswervingly to the behavior, and it emboldens ability generalization (Lang et al., 2010). For instance, a child who is permitted to leave after being impelled to say “goodbye” has a grander prospect of applying and simplifying this word in contrast to a child who receives a palpable element for restating this word. Thus, the method transferences training from the therapy room to the individual’s routine setting with the interest of the child acting as the starting point for mediations.
Autism is a condition with a high prevalence in the country and across the world. The disorder affects the information processing capabilities of the brain by changing and reorganizing the nerve cell connections and their synapses. While an experienced eye might notice symptoms early on, most parents often fail to bring their children in for formal diagnosis until they attain the age of between eighteen months and three years. Behavioral evaluation centers on training new behaviors, impacts the level and frequency of current behaviors, or eradicates certain ineffectual characteristics. There are numerous ABA-related and experimental treatments associated with autism. They include DTL, incidental training, verbal behavior, PRT, and NLP. Specialists apply these approaches in different situations to help autistic children acquire numerous usable skills.
Cooper, J.O., Heron, T.E., & Heward, W.L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Falcomata, T.S., Roane, H.S., Feeney, B.J., & Stephenson, K.M. (2010). Assessment and treatment of elopement maintained by access to stereotypy. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 43(3), 513-517.
Kodak, T., Grow, L., & Northrup, J. (2004). Functional analysis and treatment of elopement for a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 37(2), 229-232.
Lang, R., Davis, T., O’Reilly, M., Machalicek, W., Rispoli, M., Sigafoos, …Regester, A. (2010). Functional analysis and treatment of elopement across two school settings. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 43(1), 113-118.
Miltenberger, R.G. (2016). Behavior modification: Principles and procedures (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.