I want to start this post off with a disclaimer- I am not a professional, I have not been involved with ABA for years and years. I am just a Momma that has seen so many benefits of ABA in my child and would like to share my experiences and strategies for success with ABA with everyone (or rather anyone that wants to read this 🙂 )
The site I’m referencing: http://www.appliedbehavioralstrategies.com/what-is-aba.html
What is ABA?
“Applied Behavior Analysis is the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree, and to demonstrate that the interventions employed are responsible for the improvement in behavior”
In Momma terms- It’s a group of people that help teach your kiddo how to work through behaviors. How to redirect behaviors that are potentially harmful both physically and socially. For us this was using a method of ignoring and being a body block to Leo when he was frustrated or on sensory overload. If the behavior wasn’t physically harming himself or another (screaming, using ugly words, general protesting) the behavior was ignored, and positive praise was given to another person for being quiet and participating in whatever the task is. If he was trying to hit, or kick or throw or pinch or punch then either myself or the tutor would place their body in between Leo and his target. No words would be said, you are literally just using your body as a shield. (This one was SOOOOOO HARD FOR ME. If he hauled off and smacked someone, my first instinct was to smack his hand or his butt. But that method didn’t work. Ignoring totally did)
On top of that was teaching him some key phrases that helped with his transitions- “first/ then” is a HUGE one. (First circle time then milk) Always short and to the point, and he adjusted to this quickly and pretty well.
Leo understands full sentences, he understands when I explain things in detail, but when we are either on the edge of a melt down or in one- the shorter the phrase the better off we are. It’s direct, it’s to the point, it addresses his wants and what is expected of him. It’s crazy effective.
So we have 4 tutors currently, each one has a different approach and brings out different things in Leo. One has helped his imagination take shape, they go on adventures, they make up stories, the are high energy all of the time. Another has gotten him to focus (a bit) on art and not protest like crazy when making projects. She also helped get him to try new foods and to let her know that squeezes and “Leo burrito” help him feel better. Another has helped with his social at school, and the last shares a love of reptiles, and play, talking and asking and dancing.
They are gold. Trust them. Ask questions. Listen to them. Learn everything you can from them. But most of all- continue what they do in the few hours they are with your kiddo when they aren’t around. Consistency is KEY to growth through ABA.
As parents I think sometimes we think we know whats best for our kids. And I’ll agree with that 80% of the time. But I think we also become to encapsulated in our world, making them feel better after a tantrum or melt down, being the only ones that can understand their words at times, being complacent with the 3 brown foods they will eat, that we can be our kids biggest “holder backers” (yeah I have awesome language skills).
It becomes easy and comfortable for us to continue with what is “working”. But really it isn’t working. ABA is intense. It is emotionally demanding. It is frustrating. It is a team effort. It takes stepping outside of comfort zones. It takes wanting to learn with your kiddo. It takes strength. It is amazing.
If anyone has questions about ABA or my thoughts in more detail about specifics I’d love to answer them.