Although research has demonstrated efficacy in doing so, ABA does not necessarily have to be utilized solely for extremely troubling behaviors; this form of treatment can improve an individual’s learning behaviors by focusing on other deficient skill areas as well. Academic, social, and self-help skills are very often also addressed and improved through the usage of ABA programs. The goals for the skills are developed in order to meet the needs and abilities of the particular individual. When taught a new skillset, motivational principles of ABA are applied by breaking down even the most complex tasks into smaller, manageable steps (Dillenburger & Keenan, 2012, p. 112). During the first introduction of a skill, the task is presented in the simplest form and a significant amount of guidance is provided in order to ensure success. These initial steps are then always followed by reinforcement with a preferred item, even if ...view middle of the document...
Prompting is one technique that is very crucial within the ABA learning process. This term describes the guidance provided during skill development in order to ensure success. When a skill is first introduced, a more intrusive, codependent prompt is provided for the learner. For example, if the individual is learning to tie shoes, he or she may first be provided with a hand-over-hand, or physical, prompt while going through the steps. The prompting during this first introduction typically assists the individual with the answer or correct response automatically, which is then reinforced. This simple, reinforced tasks promotes the motivation and confidence to complete the task in the future because it is not overly stress-inducing (Myers, 2007).
Prompting then directly connects with another technique known as fading. Once the task is completed with a given prompt, the prompt is faded, or reduced, to a less-intrusive, more independent prompt. For shoe-tying, the ABA instructor may fade the hand-over-hand prompt into a lighter physical prompt. Guidance is still given in this case, but not to the extent that was previously provided. This ensures that reliance on a given prompt is not created, and eventually independence has the potential to be reached. (Brams, 2008).
In order to break down more complex tasks, the technique of chaining is applied. Chaining involves gaining independence with the simplest form of the task first and gradually linking it to the other tasks thereafter. This can be utilized in the form of backward chaining (mastering independence of the stages in reverse order while the rest of the steps are prompted), forward chaining (independently completing the first stage, then completing the rest in order once each step is mastered), and total task chaining (working to gain independence with all steps at once through total prompting and fading). Chaining can be a useful technique used toward gaining skills within many areas. Food preparation, dressing, and shoe-tying are a few skills commonly taught in ABA using chaining (Brams, 2008). Research shows that vocal imitation can be acquired through chaining as well.