What is Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) and Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI)?
Our programmes utilise procedures based on Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA). ABA is a science employing the principles of behaviour devoted to the understanding and improvement of human behaviour. It has been employed in effecting behaviour change across a wide variety of behaviours and settings, for example eating difficulties, childhood obesity, and gambling. ABA is not disorder or diagnosis specific, being utilised for behaviour change with many different client groups in addition to autism, such as individuals with dementia. It has been shown to be effective with a range of age groups.
The central focus of ABA is on behaviour or skills that are important to individuals, groups, or communities, enabling them to lead more fulfilling lives, for example for a young child with autism this may include learning how to speak, communicate, and play with toys. Each discrete behaviour is clearly and precisely defined, meaning it can be accurately measured to ensure meaningful change is taking place. ABA based procedures are used and applied to analyse the behaviour and design an intervention specifically for the individual, group or community, and the behaviour in question. When new skills are learned, the use of ABA based procedures includes ensuring this is generalised across different environments so they can be used in a meaningful way within day to day life.
Using procedures based on ABA, Dr. O. Ivar Lovaas and colleagues developed treatment for young children with autism, which has subsequently become known as Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI). There are specific elements that define effective EIBI programmes. These include:
- Early intervention
- Parental involvement
- One-to-one teaching initially, before gradual integration into a nursery or school
- Teaching for 35-40 hours per week for at least two years
- Use of behaviour analytic procedures
- A comprehensive developmental curriculum
- Individualised programming
- Supervision by professionals experienced and trained in using ABA based procedures and implementing a developmental curriculum.
ABA based procedures have been shown to be effective for individuals as they grow older and as such programmes for older children can be provided by UKYAP (spaces permitting), following an assessment to ensure we can meet the young person’s needs.
A research-based provision
Our programme is based on the work of Dr O. Ivar Lovaas through more than 40 years of scientific research conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The programme utilises procedures based on ABA and comprises of specific teaching techniques developed through extensive research. We have also conducted our own outcome research.
How does the programme work?
Our comprehensive teaching curriculum addresses all skill areas in deficit, including:
- Speech and language
- Play and social skills
- Self-help and independent living skills
- Motor skills and imitation
- Academic skills
Teaching is conducted in a systematic manner, breaking down tasks into manageable components. The intervention is structured so that positive, appropriate behaviours such as play, language and socialisation are maximised through prompting and positive reinforcement.
The intervention involves:
- Reinforcement: if you receive a positive reaction after you perform a behaviour, you will be more likely to repeat the behaviour again, this is the principle of reinforcement.
- The individual’s motivation to participate in the learning process is key in our behavioural interventions.
- Prompting new skills and then systematically fading prompts until the individual responds independently.
- Creating a teaching environment that maximises a child’s success and minimises failure.
- Developing appropriate behaviours such as play, language, and socialisation by optimising teaching opportunities.
- Reducing excessive or inappropriate behaviours through analysing the function of the behaviour and implementing specific interventions. In addition, alternative more socially acceptable behaviours are taught.
- Continually monitoring progress through data collection to ensure optimal progress. Data collection ensures that the intervention is responsible for the change in behaviour, that the results are significant, and that the behaviour change is generalised across contexts.
- Teaching is conducted primarily in the child's home, with gradual integration into mainstream school placements where appropriate.
Through EIBI, a sizeable minority of children with autism, other pervasive developmental disorders and related developmental disorders have been able to achieve typical educational and intellectual functioning. Many children have been mainstreamed into regular classrooms and have advanced successfully through the school system.
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