Not-So-Common ABA Errors?

Not-So-Common ABA Errors?
In Applied Behaviour Analysis, we talk about the A-B-C paradigm of Antecedent-Behaviour-Consequence and, knowing that behaviour tends to be under the control of its consequences, we rely heavily of the operant conditioning research in any teaching-of-behaviours that we do with our children with autism. Parents, on the other hand, are more likely to try to influence their child’s behaviour from the antecedent side of the A-B-C equation, i.e., by telling the child what to do rather than teaching the desired behaviours through controlling the consequences to the child of behaving in any particular way. Either one of these approaches can be an error, depending on the characteristics of the child. For example, it can be an error to tell an oppositional child what is wanted, just as it can be an error to not tell a cooperative child what is wanted. It is the latter error that ABA instructors are more likely to make.
I have said that this is a not-so-common ABA error only because I think that so many of the children with whom we are working are still young enough that “reasoning with them” is not something that we tend to do. On the other hand, it is quite possible that my perception is biased by the young and often severely affected population with which I have been working. It has been suggested that one of the best approaches to treating an alcoholic is to tell him/her to stop drinking, and perhaps it is the same kind of thing here – telling the child what we want him or her to learn may actually be more effective than keeping the child in the dark. And, while I don’t like telling a child what the reinforcement will be – preferring to let the child discover that for him- or herself – I think that Schramm is on to something when he writes about mini-consequences, such as a frown (signaling some distance from the attainment of reinforcement) when the child does not perform up to reasonable expectations.

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