Understanding the Types of Applied Behavior Analysis

6th December 2020

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is an evidence-based practice that focuses on teaching and improving specific behaviors and skills to children and adults with psychological disorders. It is most commonly used for supporting children with autism, even though it is also used for treating people with ADHD or patients with traumatic brain injury.

There are many different approaches to it, and we are going to discuss a few of them.

Pivotal Response Training

Pivotal Response Training, or Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT), is a naturalistic approach. It targets at the same time child’s:

  • Motivation
  • Responsivity To Cues
  • Social Management
  • Social Initiations

This is a child-led approach, which means that the child chooses the topics, activities, or tools. As has been stated in this guide, it is very important to motivate a child to initiate the activity or conversation topic by putting them in an informal setting, as strict and formal structures sometimes cause struggle to respond or initiate conversation. It should be practiced at least 25 times a week, as it deals with crucial lifestyle changes and cues.

Discrete Trial Training

Discrete Trial Training (DTT) is an approach that is usually practiced in more formal, therapeutic settings. It is based on the principle that teaching a bigger more complex task is harder if it’s done all at once. Instead, it is broken down into multiple smaller steps, which are then presented to a child one by one, from less to more complex. When a child is presented with a step, depending on their response they get a reward or the question is repeated. If there is a struggle or a long pause in response, they are given a hint.

Incidental Teaching

Incidental Teaching has the same rewarding system as DTT. The difference is that Incidental Teaching deals with teaching skills in reference to a child’s daily life. The setting is less formal, and it can be done not only by the professional therapist but also by a parent or a teacher. In this case, teaching is done in response to a child’s initiative, like when playing or asking for something. Every normal daily situation can be turned into a lesson about some valuable skill, for example communicational.

Naturalistic Teaching

Naturalistic teaching, or Naturalistic Developmental Behavioural Interventions (NDBIs), takes importance in the sense that all the teaching that is done should be done in a natural setting. It is based on a premise that any skill that is acquired in one domain should be taught to be applied in another context. For example, if the child was taught how to count to ten, they should be asked to apply it to the number of fruits in the basket. It is heavily encouraged to be applied at home, a few times a day.

Picture Exchange Communication System

Picture Exchange Communication System is done by teaching communicational and vocabulary skills by showing and naming pictures. Later on, the individual is asked to apply the pictured words in a sentence, and in the later phases is even asked questions and to comment on what is shown. Like DTT, it is done in stages, from the most to the least complex one. The main goal of this approach is to teach practical communication skills.

The Early Start Denver Model

This model is most known by the acronym ESDM. Its goal is to teach multiple skills at once through playing or some other form of joined activity. It could be done both in the natural and therapeutic and also in a single or a group setting. The recommendation is that this approach should be applied at an early age when the child is approximately 12 to 48 months old. It is a bit more challenging, as multiple skills are taught in the range of a single exercise.

Verbal Behaviour Intervention

Verbal Behaviour Intervention is an approach that primarily deals with the function of language instead of the form. The intention and initiative are what is important, and not the way and correctness of what is said. The individual is encouraged to ask for what they want in any way that they can. Also, the big part of this approach is that individuals should know how to do intraverbal communications, mainly to be able to give a response to the asked question, even if it is a one-word response.

Applied Behaviour Analysis is a relatively new way to help people with psychological disabilities. Because of that, some of its advantages and possible uses are still unknown. Its types and approaches have been proven to have a great effect and people who have undergone them have made big progress in a short amount of time. It is definitely something that should be considered when looking for mental training for individuals with difficulties.