ABA style behavior modification is the one proven method for improving behavioral and speech outcomes for people with autism. I’m a huge believer, thanks to my training by Dr. Ivar Lovaas at the UCLA Young Autism Project in the early 1980’s. Through ABA, children who are non-verbal learn to communicate effectively, and others who never become fully verbal are able to self manage their behavior so that they can live as functional members of their family and community. Find out more on my autism page. While we know that behavior modification works, increasingly I am meeting children and teens who did not receive any ABA training in their lifetimes. If they did receive some behavior modification at school, often their parents were not taught these techniques to use at home. The result is a young person with limited expressive language and poor self-control.
ABA, or Applied Behavior Analysis, is a super structured method of teaching language and behavior. It is often performed at a table, using tokens and rewards. While it is effective, it is not natural, nor is it easy for a child to generalize into the rest of their environment. True behavior modification needs to be taught in every setting a child participates in so that they will internalize and generalize the skills.
Drs Koegel at UC Santa Barbara have created a new form of ABA that embeds it into every interaction a child has, in every environment. It is called PRT, or Pivotal Response Treatment. On September 13 & 14, I’ll be attending their annual conference on PRT and earning my level 1 certification. It will be an excellent way to update the behavior modification skills I’ve learned and used with many families over the years. My plan is to teach these techniques to my clients as I work with their families and schools to improve their child’s behavior, language and learning while decreasing negative behaviors.
Supernanny is a superstar in my book. Here is a fantastic example of her working with Dr. Koegel to teach a family how to reach their little boy who is autistic. Do you get goosebumps when Tristan says “tickle” like I did? What has been your families’ experience with ABA or PRT? Please share in the comments.