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Aba Therapy For Autism Essay

1351 words - 6 pages

The most typical component of ABA used is positive reinforcement, which studies have shown to be an effective technique within a variety of settings and circumstances. Ferguson and Rosales-Ruiz (2001) conducted a study in which they utilized positive reinforcement in order to modify the behavior of horses. Prior to the study, the five horses observed were demonstrating inappropriate behaviors while loading into a trailer, which can be dangerous for both caregivers and the animals (p. 409). In order to deter these behaviors, the researchers provided the mares with preferred foods as positive reinforcement as the behavior was gradually shaped. They began by reinforcing approximate behaviors ...view middle of the document...

To address these unacceptable behaviors two phases, along with a preference assessment, were carried out (p. 130). The preference assessment was conducted with the participant prior to the intervention. This involved the presentation of several edibles to the boy in order to determine which items could be utilized as reinforcing stimuli. This is an imperative step since an alluring item of reinforcement is necessary to modify the behaviors. Because the researchers found that oatmeal cream pies and candy were the most reinforcing items, these edibles were utilized as positive reinforcement to reward gradual approximations of the desired behavior (p. 132).
The first phase of the behavior intervention involved the closest distance to the target area that the participant would reach. This baseline distance was first recorded, and then a slightly further marker was placed as the new target distance for the participant to reach. As soon as the participant was successful in reaching this target without any behaviors he was given an edible and praised to reward the behavior. Gradually, he was able to consistently reach these school settings without behaviors (Schmidt et al., 2013, p. 133). Once this occurred, the second phase was conducted. This phase intended to desensitize the individual and increase the duration that he would participate in activities within the given setting. During these trials, researchers set a timer to demonstrate the duration that the boy needed to wait in order to earn an edible. To begin, the timer was set for only 2 seconds per setting. Positive reinforcement was then presented immediately after the timer went off. These trials were slowly conducted until the participant was able to remain in the setting for a duration of 5 minutes without negative behaviors. This desensitization goal was reached after 20 sessions for the gymnasium, 15 sessions for the music room, and 10 sessions for the gross-motor room. Successive maintenance sessions demonstrated that this intervention paired with positive reinforcement was effective long-term due to the elimination of the participant’s aforementioned maladaptive behaviors (Schmidt et al., 2013, p. 135).
These studies provide support that positive reinforcement can often be a very effective behavior modification strategy within ABA. At times, however, other ABA techniques must be utilized as well in order to address more severe behaviors. Because punishment is no longer commonly used due to its ability to result in unwanted side effects, the procedure of extinction is now commonly substituted. Extinction is a term derived from operant conditioning that describes the withholding of the reinforcement that previously maintained a behavior. Discontinuing this reinforcement then leads to the decrease of the behavior because it is no longer being rewarded (Lattal, St. Peter, & Escobar, 2013). When the extinction procedure is first presented, however, it sometimes creates an “extinction...

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