Teaching Your Child To Be More Independent

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Read Time: 5 minutes

Teaching activities of daily living are one of my favorite areas to teach as a behavior analyst. With each daily living skill I teach, I am able to provide each learner with a skill that they will be able to perform for the rest of their lives. We are able to teach a range of daily living skills from riding a bike, to getting dressed, to learning how to dial a caregivers phone number to making food for themselves.

As behavior analyst, we individualize our teaching procedures for each of our learners. We will talk about the three primary ways we teach a long list of steps like teaching activities of daily living. 

Selecting a teaching technique varies greatly by the learner. It is important to consider the following: 

  1. How many steps does the learner already know?

  2. Will the child need to access to reinforcement quickly (i.e. a break, praise, etc)?

  3. How strong are the child’s motor skills (as this will influence how much prompting will be required)?

The first technique is forward chaining. In forward chaining, we teach each learner to complete the very first step of the task and help them through the rest of the steps in the task. Once the first step has been acquired, the second step is taught. When the second step is acquired, the third step is taught and so on. For example, when teaching a child to comb their hair, the first step would be to teach him/her to pick up the hair brush and prompt through the rest of the steps. Once the child has acquired picking up the hair brush on their own, we would then require the learner to pick up the brush (step 1) and place the brush on their head (step 2) and so on until we are able to require them to complete the entire task. 

The second technique is backward chaining. In backward chaining we only require the learner to complete the final step of the task. Similar to forward chaining the learner is taught one step at a time and then required to complete the acquired step and the previous step in the routine. When teaching shoe tying, the learner would be helped through the entire task and then required to complete the last step (i.e. pulling the loops to complete the tie). Once this final step is mastered, the learner would be required to make the loops and also pull the loops to complete the tie. The same sequence would continue until the learner knows all of the steps.

The final technique used is called total task chaining. In this technique the learner is taught the entire task receiving assistance as needed. This technique is great to use if the learner already knows some of the steps and may only need a little assistance. When teaching to make a PB and J sandwich, the learner may know how to gather the ingredients to make the sandwich but may need assistance with spreading the peanut butter and jelly and putting the ingredients away. In this example, the person assisting would refrain from prompting the learner in the areas they know and assist in the steps the learner has not yet acquired. 

Our learner in this video, learned to complete his shoe tying task using forward chaining in which we taught the first steps of the chain and continued to add on to the task as he acquired the steps. In a very short period of time, our lovely guy was asking for the rest of the steps to complete the task on his own! We are so proud of him! You may also be able to hear his brother providing him with positive reinforcement by cheering him on!

Graphed through Central Reach

Graphed through Central Reach

What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)?

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What is Applied Behavior Analysis? 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 (Baer, Wolf & Risley, 1968; Sulzer-Azaroff & Mayer, 1991).             

 


ABA methods are used to support persons with autism in at least six ways:

  1. to increase behaviors (eg reinforcement procedures increase on-task behavior, or social interactions);

  2. to teach new skills (eg, systematic instruction and reinforcement procedures teach functional life skills, communication skills, or social skills);

  3. to maintain behaviors (eg, teaching self control and self-monitoring procedures to maintain and generalize job-related social skills);

  4. to generalize or to transfer behavior from one situation or response to another (eg, from completing assignments in the resource room to performing as well in the mainstream classroom);

  5. to restrict or narrow conditions under which interfering behaviors occur (eg, modifying the learning environment); and

  6. to reduce interfering behaviors (eg, self injury or stereotypy).

Source: Center for Autism and Related Disorders


Is Applied Behavior Analysis ONLY for children with Autism? Absolutely not! ABA is a science that when implemented correctly is beneficial for all children and adults with or without a diagnosis. Recent research continues to be developed in the areas of health and fitness, organization behavior management, substance abuse and addiction and education.  

Who provides Applied Behavior Analysis services? Services can be provided by a Board Certified Behavior Behavior Analyst-Doctoral (BCBA-D) or a Board Certified Behavior Behavior Analyst (BCBA) : a doctoral or master’s level clinician who has passed the Behavior Analyst Certification Board Exam. Services can also be provided by a Board Certified assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) who is a bachelor’s level clinician often accruing their hours to become a BCBA overseen by a BCBA. A registered behavior technician (RBT) can also provide services while being overseen by a BCBA. Individuals at the RBT level have also passed a certification exam by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. For more information regarding credentialing requirements, see https://www.bacb.com/.

Career Choice: Behavior Analyst

Background:

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Since I was little, I always told my mom growing up that I knew I wanted to help people everyday in my life. The question we all have when picking a career choice is what could I possibly love to do everyday that I can continue doing it for the rest of my life. Fortunately, my choice came a little easy for me! While attending the University of South Florida, a new minor had just opened up: Intro to Applied Behavior Analysis instructed by none other than Ms. Victoria Fogel. As soon as I took the first course, I KNEW I had made the right choice. The more I learned, the more I fell in love with the field. I had the wonderful opportunity to begin my career while working at the Florida Autism Center of Excellence as a teacher's assistant, where I quickly learned that no child is the same and they are all special in their own ways. From there, I transitioned to a clinic where I had the opportunity to transition from a Registered Behavior Technician to a Clinical Coordinator overseeing the clinic. Here, I continued to develop the love for my field, strengthen my skill sets with the population I worked with and was able to train parents and some of the most wonderful staff I have ever had the pleasure of working with.  

Random facts about me: I love Christmas and especially the GRINCH! I love to dance salsa and can eat Cold Stone for every meal of the day. 

Why did I choose ABA?

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Applied Behavior Analysis is the application of the principles of learning and motivation from Behavior Analysis, and the procedures and technology derived from those principles, to the solution of problems of social significance. Through years of research and development, behavior analysts have created a science that is replicable not only by those with the degree in Behavior Analysis but teachers, caregivers and anyone who wishes to implement its highly researched techniques. I have witnessed first-hand by working with amazing individuals diagnosed with developmental disabilities, the power that my field has. I have witnessed milestones that may be considered minute for a typically developing child but enormous for the kiddos I have worked with. Some of my favorite milestones include: teaching a child to use the Picture Exchange Communication System not only to request using sentences but to label events around him, teaching a child to get dressed using a task analysis, having a conversation with a child that it is "ok" to  be different and that autism does not make him "less", helping countless families achieve potty training successes and being able to mainstream a child who previously didn't know how to communicate using words! 

My Mission:

My mission at AMA Behavioral Consulting, LLC is to provide each learner with evidence-based, high quality behavior therapy services to reach their full potential. I wish to create a company that serves as a resource of information about our field and our practices and that is ethical in each step of the process. I truly value what my field can accomplish and I cannot wait to share my work with others who wish to share these amazing experiences with me! 

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