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Applied Behavior Analysis

Applied Behavior Analysis, sometimes referred to as ABA , is the science in which tactics or strategies derived from the principles of behavior are systematically applied to improve socially significant behavior to a meaningful degree (Cooper et al., 1987). ABA offers a practical framework for addressing the challenges faced by many learners and their families. Years of peer-reviewed, clinical research has shown ABA to be effective in teaching a variety of skills where other methods have shown limited success, including language, social skills and a variety of academic skills. ABA methodologies also have a long history of successful treatment and management of challenging problematic behaviors.

For children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, methodologies based on the principles of ABA have demonstrated significantly positive effects. These results, first demonstrated by O. Ivar Lovaas at the UCLA Autism Project (1987), have been replicated throughout the past three decades and broadened to include positive outcomes for children with a variety of learning and behavioral challenges in a variety of settings. This has been particularly welcome given the slow progress and lack of effective treatment options for children diagnosed on the autism spectrum. In fact, ABA is the only treatment option that has been empirically validated for children with autism (Schreibman, 2005).

The application of ABA to educational programming, sometimes referred to as Behavioral Education (Skinner, 2004), results in an individualized, intensive instructional program designed to meet the global challenges of children and families with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities. Driven by behavioral assessment strategies, behavioral programming results in the design of a carefully constructed learning environment capable of successfully teaching a range of functional outcomes, and continuous data-based evaluation of this environment to assure that learning outcomes have been achieved.

The Jeddah Institute for Speech and Hearing now offers individualized services in Applied Behavior Analysis. All assessment and service delivery is conducted on-site, with recommendations and program development conducted by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA©). Currently, these are the only such services supervised at this level in the Saudi Arabia .

Service delivery includes a range of options, including:

Behavioral Consultation:

This service is provided directly to families at the request of their Speech & Language Pathologist. Consultation includes a single meeting (typically two hours in duration) with a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA©), to determine the necessity for more intensive behavioral assessment or to offer recommendations for clearly defined learning or behavioral challenges. Brief, direct observation of the child is a component of this consultation, as is interview of parents and professionals familiar with the child’s daily routines and learning challenges. Consultation may also be provided to educational staff regarding challenges faced in school or other learning environments. Behavioral consultation results in a written summary with clearly stated recommendations for assessment, intervention, measurement, training, and follow-up. Additional consultation meetings may be scheduled if deemed necessary.

Behavioral Assessment:

The purpose of behavioral assessment is to gather sufficient information about the child’s skill levels in a broad range of developmental domains in order to design an individualized, intensive behavioral program. Information is also gathered on behavior impeding learning in order to develop a behavior support plan to facilitate more productive and successful learning. Assessment is conducted by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA©) with assistance from trained ABA Therapists. Structured behavioral assessment tools, such as the Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills (ABLLS-R) created by Partington and the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales-II (Sparrow, 2007) are utilized to document performance levels and determine recommended target skills. Comprehensive social skills assessment and assessment of interfering problem behavior is also conducted using a variety of structured tools, direct observation, and functional assessment/ analysis strategies. Behavioral assessment includes 5-10 hours of direct and indirect assessment and the time required to develop an intensive, individualized program (usually 10 – 15 hours). The outcome of behavioral assessment is a comprehensive, written summary of a child’s performance levels, recommendations for programming content, and the development of a complete behavioral program tailored to a child’s specific needs.

Intensive Behavioral Programming:

Behavioral education services are provided on-site at JISH for individuals who have been recommended for such services by their treatment team, including their Speech Language Pathologist, parents, and Behavioral Consultation providers. Intensive programming involves daily instruction utilizing the principles of ABA and the individualized programs developed as a result of Behavioral Assessment. Instruction may occur for a range of 10 – 20 hours weekly. Programming is provided by ABA Therapists, who are directly supervised on a daily basis by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA©). Intensive programming may involve instruction in a variety of skill domains, including language, personal care routines (such as toilet-training, dressing, or eating), academics (include reading and math instruction), cognition, motor, and social/ play skills. Evidence-based behavioral technologies, including antecedent control strategies, reinforcement strategies, shaping, chaining, and incidental teaching are among the strategies utilized. Evidence-based learning models, such as direct instruction, may also be recommended as a component of programming. Strategies for promoting generalization are included in program planning to assure the generality of behavior change. Programming includes daily monitoring via direct measurement of performance by the ABA Therapist with reliability measures taken by the BCBA. Weekly data review is conducted by the BCBA and program changes are made based on review of objective data.

Progress reporting:

Monthly progress reports with data display and analysis are provided to families of any child receiving intensive behavioral programming

Training and on-going consultation:

On-going training is provided to family members and school-based providers for any child receiving intensive behavioral services. Training and on-going consultation is provided on-site, at JISH.

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