ABA can teach in unexpected ways

Farm animals

Written by Maura Buckley

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) may not seem like the most creative therapy on the surface — but in fact, ABA can be as creative as a therapist and child want! Teaching opportunities and reinforcement options can have endless possibilities. For example, if going outside and gathering dandelions is the greatest activity in the world for your child, then an ABA program can be written to use dandelion collection to reinforce behaviors.

If your child is like mine, then they love to watch videos… maybe too much at times. But as a parent, you can harness that love through video modeling. For my son, “pretend play” was just out of his reach. He wanted to play with farm animal toys, but ended up just banging them around and getting frustrated. So his ABA therapist let him watch a video of a boy playing with some farm animals. It was a really simple video, broken down into sections that were easy for him to process.

My son LOVED watching the video, and when he modeled the same behavior he saw with the farm animals, he was thrilled (and reinforced). Not only was he happily playing (no banging or frustration), but he was able to repeat this behavior with other toys and have appropriate pretend play that he continues to enjoy to this day. I still love to hear him say “Slurp slurp, the horse is thirsty for water.” and “Oink oink, want to roll around in the mud with me?”

Video modeling is just one of the many ways your child can learn through ABA. The more you know about ABA, the more learning opportunities you open up for your child. The cues are from your kids, so go ahead and grab a few! Also, talk to your ABA providers. I bet they will be excited to work with you to implement your ideas.

If you are a DBI user, refer to module 4 for more information about video modeling and reinforcement. If you want to learn more about DBI, visit http://www.udiscovering.org/products/discovering-behavioral-intervention/autism-information-families.

For a research article on the effectiveness of video modeling, visit http://nichcy.org/research/summaries/abstract72