Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Mondays where I respond to email questions from readers who have questions about their child’s behavior. Today’s question comes from Margaret who asks,
“Someone recently suggested that our child’s teacher use ABA in her classroom. Our child does not have a disability, let alone autism. Why on earth would someone be suggesting that our teacher use a special education strategy on our child?”
Margaret, I first want to thank you for your question. It is great that you found our blog and this is a perfect place to raise your question about ABA. It is funny that you would ask this because we recently included the topic in one our myths about ABA. You can read the entire post regarding misconceptions of ABA here.
ABA has been used to teach a variety of skills, with a variety of research participants, including adults, children, people with autism, individuals with behavior disorders, and individuals with cognitive disabilities. ABA is used to train animals, including dogs, pigeons, and rats.
So, back to your question regarding your child’s teacher using ABA….How can (or how has) ABA been used in general education?
ABA has been used to help children become fluent in a skill they have recently acquired. For example, in kindergarten, children can be reinforced for quickly identifying letters of the alphabet. This skill can continue in to first grade when students may be reinforced for making the letter sound quickly when they see the letter or letter blends. In second grade, students can improve their fluency with math facts by receiving reinforcement for answering them more quickly. (Note: this is exactly the process that occurs in the activity called Mad Minute).
Classroom Behavior Management
ABA has also been used successfully to improve classroom behaviors. Anyone who has spent any time in a public school classroom knows the difficulties of managing the students’ behaviors. Thank you ABA for helping teachers do this! The Good Behavior Game, The Marble Jar, Ticket Reward Systems, and The Color Card System (Green, Yellow, and Red) all have roots in ABA.
ABA has also been used to teach individuals to remain on task in general education settings. From simple self-monitoring plans to more complex teacher-implemented reinforcement systems, ABA works to keep students on task.
In summary, ABA can be used effectively to change behavior whether the focus is on students with disabilities or individuals with no learning problems whatsoever. The key is to identify the behavior to be changed, implement techniques to have the desired effect on the behavior, and then monitor changes with systematic data collection to make certain the behavior heads in the appropriate direction.
And now, I’m off to call Rebecca to see if we can change our company tag line, “ABA, it’s not just for children with disabilities!”
If you have a behavior question for Missy, email askmissy at applied behavioral strategies dot com.