Background to my interest in teaching children with autism

Teaching Children with Autism, continued

Technically, ABA is defined as the science in which procedures derived from the principles of behavior are systematically applied to improve socially significant behavior to a meaningful degree and to demonstrate experimentally that the procedures employed were responsible for the improvement in behavior (Cooper, Heron, and Heward, Applied  Behavior Analysis, 1989). It is a science in that it has to do with applying the past hundred or so years of research into learning. It is behavioural in that it is concerned with the learning of observables, which is why it focuses on behaviours rather than thoughts – behaviours can be observed and thoughts cannot.

However, I want to give you a somewhat simpler definition of ABA. In my opinion, when it comes to teaching children with autism, ABA is nothing more than remedial education for the language/ communication and social relating deficits, and treatment for the behavioural rigidities, which define autism.

In the interest of putting ABA into perspective, here are the principles that govern remedial education:

Determine what the child already knows.

Break the material to be learned into relatively small steps.

Starting where the child is, teach the next steps in each part of the curriculum.

Measure the change.

Modify your procedures and teaching targets as necessary to ensure continuing progress.

And here are the principles that govern ABA:

Determine what the child already knows.

Break the material to be learned into relatively small steps.

Starting where the child is, teach the next steps in each part of the curriculum.

Measure the change.

Modify your procedures and teaching targets as necessary to ensure continuing progress.

You may notice that they are remarkably similar. ☺

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