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ABA - what is it?

(27 Posts)
farming4 Thu 08-Sep-11 13:35:45

Hi - some of you may know me and know my ds. He's 4, has epilepsy and possible verbal dyspraxia.

He started ms school yesterday with 15 hrs 1-1 (am only) supplied by the school. Lovely TA who is ABA trained and worked with a very asd child last year.

Anyway had a long chat with her yesterday re her plans for ds and she mentioned she was going to use ABA with him in school. Fine I said and then came home and googled.

Now I'm confused - ds has no autistic traits, is a happy, sociable, outgoing little fella who is nt in every way apart from he has a problem verbalising. Yes he has meltdowns at times but this is due to pure frustration when he can't communicate his need and wants but he's no worse than his brother and sister were at that age.

I'm not sure what I'm asking really - is ABA suitable for this child or is he being treated as if he has more sn that he actually has iyswim?

Parasaurolophus Thu 08-Sep-11 13:49:34

ABA is a way to understand behaviour. It involves breaking teaching down into small steps and really understanding how to motivate and reinforce learning in different children. Some children with autism may be reinforced with toys or food in the beginning of a program and then move to more social and natural reinforcers. Your son might not need the extra reinforcement, but might really benefit from a therapist who is thinking carefully about what he knows, and making sure that he is building the relevant communication and language skills.

There is recent evidence that children with some SN who are not autistic benefit hugely from just 5-10 hours a week of 1:1 teaching based on the principles of ABA

For your son, your therapist may feel that he will benefit from having communication skills broken down into manageable units. I think it will probably be great for him. Often 1:1 just do a bit of child minding, to have one who is thinking carefully about his learning can only be helpful.

An ABA therapist will also try to understand his frustration and help him find ways to communicate more effectively.

It sounds great

graciousenid Thu 08-Sep-11 14:16:26

ABA is just an extremely efficient teaching method, it isn't autism specific; I use it with my nt children.

moondog Thu 08-Sep-11 14:58:25

Second everything said here.ABA is essentially the science of behaviour sand learning and is concerned with how to teach sand measure progress more efficiently and effectively.

Lucky lucky you and your son to have such support.People fight tooth and nail for this sort of intervention (many post on this board and there struggles make me want to weep) and you have it by chance.

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 08-Sep-11 15:01:03

ABA isn't a 'thing' or a 'treatment', it is simply about gathering evidence to inform planning, but done on a very detailed scale and in a way that makes no assumptions about prior learning until it is demonstrated. Part of the evidence collected is what motivates the child and makes them happy so that the difficult aspects of their learning can be linked to that and enable efficient skill acquisition.

moondog Thu 08-Sep-11 15:04:04



How are you SM? smile

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 08-Sep-11 15:09:15

Give this TA one month then ask to see her documentation. If you don't like it then talk about alternatives there, but if she knows what she is doing you're unlikely to have a problem with it.

My ds had 9 months of learning using ABA methodology and absolutely flew. He had a whole year of no ABA where he stood still. He has just had 2 MORNINGS of ABA intervention and is like a different child already. Happy, eager to learn, and has already learned loads in JUST TWO MORNINGS.

Your ds IMO is VERY lucky and if you agree with me in a month make sure this TA gets a well deserved Christmas pressie, not to mention the class teacher for being forward enough thinking to allow it.

dolfrog Thu 08-Sep-11 15:15:50

ABA is about behaviour, and trying to change what can be considered undesirable behavior by others. Initially Develop for those who fully understand the need to change their behaviour for their own long term benefit.

ABA has nothing to do with cognitive learning, comprehension and understanding, it is about training to perform as you in the case of adults or others in the case of children want you to. Most of theories are based on behaviourist theorists of the 1980s. The research of the last two decade has been based on neurological research and the cognitive approached as to how we learn and communicate, and how these issues determine our observed behaviour

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) research paper collection

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 08-Sep-11 15:16:23

Fine thanks Moondog smile

Deferring ds from his reception Jan start whilst we work on his social skills. Unable to say how exactly on here atm with tribunal pending and stalkers but it is safe to say we have it absolutely spot on with tutors to die for.

I wish I could shout it all over MN, what we are doing and how, and I will one day when it is safe.

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 08-Sep-11 15:19:56

Oh hello dolfrog smile

OP, meet Dolfrog, our resident anti-ABA poster who pretends to know about ABA but from her posts doesn't appear to.

'ABA has nothing to do with cognitive learning, comprehension and understanding'

is one example. My ds' ABA programme was all about cognitive learning, comprehension and understanding, and according to independent EP assessment this was his biggest achievement, going from the 2nd percentile to the 92nd in just 10 months or so.

moondog Thu 08-Sep-11 15:20:38

That's fabulous to hear.
Always thinking of you and rooting for you.
Things going from strength to strength here with the powers that be.
Everyone jumping on board and leaving the sinking shop of old style SEN approaches as we build on our successes and see kids go from strength to strength.

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 08-Sep-11 15:21:15

Sorry, - HIS posts.

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 08-Sep-11 15:30:10

Sorry, deferring him UNTIL a Jan start, from Sept.

Thank you for your thoughts. We have an arguable case now, which of course is being argued but anyway, we have more tools to fight with than we did before due to the nature of the case.

Please to hear things are still going well in your area despite the cuts (or is it because of them?)

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 08-Sep-11 15:31:12

UNarguable case!

If it is argued it could well result in case law that no LA would want. That's one strength.

tiredoffightingwithjelly Thu 08-Sep-11 16:37:34

Wow, ABA can take a child from the 2nd to 92nd percentile in just ten months, sounds like an amazing achievement.

silverfrog Thu 08-Sep-11 16:46:43

we had a simlar experience to Star (although without the centile scores to prove it)

dd1 had a year of ABA (part time, very informal) at home - prob about 12 hours a week on average. this took her from no functional language to being able to ask appropriately for everything she needed, and started her off on reading/number work. this from being a screaming ball of fury before we started, with only echolalic language.

she then went to a gold-star standard ASD school. where she stood still for a year. she learnt nothing, and they were unable to even get her to speak (she was, after her year of ABA at home, a very chatty little girl who never shut up at home!), let alone display her knowledge or (heaven forbid!) begin to build upon it.

we re-started ABA, and, same as Star's ds, within 2 days of starting up again she walked into school, said hello to each and every one of her tutors/classmates and was chatting away as she did at home. and attending, and learning again.

she is now at ABA school, and it is certainly addressing her cognitive learning, comprehension and understanding <eye roll>

as everyone else has said - it is a method of teaching which breaks things down into appropriate chunks for each child, and which uses reinforcement and reward (and in our case, errorless learning too)

IndigoBell Thu 08-Sep-11 16:49:32

<slight hijack> Silver - how's her new school going?

tiredoffightingwithjelly Thu 08-Sep-11 16:56:07

Sorry, not meaning to be hijacking the thread but i am really interested to learn more about ABA. So there are schools which are purely based on ABA principles, silver, or have I misunderstood?

Please dont be offended anyone (I fully admit i know very little on this subject) but when I heard about ABA and it was explained to me by a parent it sounded to me like CBT, are there any links?

silverfrog Thu 08-Sep-11 16:57:26

first day today, Indigo. she did really well. went in fine, said hello to her tutor (had photos of them to prep her over the summer). no problems ove rthe change - when we were getting ready this morning she said "school today. not going to X, going to Y now" and was happy (comfortable happy, not ecstatic happy) with that.

her home/school book reports she: did puzzles, and explored the school (I bet she did grin), loved the playground (muddy knees attest to this!) and ate nicely (empty lunchbox - that's my girl!). The school secretary is in love with her already, and apparently was doing loads of imaginative play with her this afternoon.

I think she'll be ok there wink grin

silverfrog Thu 08-Sep-11 16:59:39

x-posts, jelly.

yes. this is dd1's second ABA school (we were perfectly happy with the first one, but it closed at the end of last term).

have a look at Jigsaw school, Guildford, or Treehouse school in London (sorry, in the middle of doing tea, so can't link, but Google will find them ok). there are many (well, not loads but the number is growing) others too.

will be back in a minute, but I smell burning!

tiredoffightingwithjelly Thu 08-Sep-11 17:22:13

Oops hope your tea didn't burn silver. have found jigsaw on the net thankyou and am going to have a good read of it and then Treehouse. I am aware of the organisation Treehouse as I am aware of their involvement in the Brian lamb study.

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 08-Sep-11 17:30:01

tired No-one minds you not knowing much about ABA. It is expected that most people don't as it isn't usually offered as an intervention in this country and where it IS offered/funded by LA's they tend to keep it secret.

ABA teaches to the child's capability. If a child CAN go from 2nd percentile to 92nd in 9/10 months then they will. If they can't, then they can't BUT I would bet pretty much anything I hold dear that they would still do better on an ABA-type programme than on the currently available alternatives.

However, unfortunately, it can be difficult for families to get hold of decent ABA, and even trickier for them to incorporate it into their child's schooling. This can make it sometimes a 'solution' that many parents decide is not worth the effort, in terms of balancing it with their family and overall lifestyles, NOT that they are lazy iyswim.

silverfrog Thu 08-Sep-11 17:52:32

tea was fine, thanks smile

glad you have found the sites - Rainbow school in Wimbledon is another one (you might as well get different perspectives on it - like anything else, there can be different interpretations/delivery of ABA)

I can only echo Starlight - it can be hard to find out about ABA. my main source of info was here, 4/5 years ago! (there are some very good threads nt the archives which are worht a read too).

ABA has been the only way we can teach dd1. she has come form a child about whom I was told "you will have to accept she will not learn anyhitng at school" to being a child who is reading, doing basic maths, chatting away and has friends, and who slotted into her new school so easily today that you would think she had been there years. she now has a school future ahead of her, rather than the obvious write-off (she was only 4, ffs!) that happened before.

farming4 Thu 08-Sep-11 18:15:36

Thank you all so much for your replies and its really interesting to read about the progress that can be made using ABA.

I have been posting and lurking on this board for the last couple of years and I do know how lucky I and my ds are to have this level of support. I was going for statementing last term but have that on hold for a bit as he has made fantastic progress over the summer and it looks like this may continue in school.

I'm extreamly lucky that the school is behind me all the way as the LEA have been next to useless but thats another rant for another thread grin. Hopefully as Starlight says i will be back on here in a month signing their praises!

Sorry if I have upset anyone with complaining that ds was getting therapy and support that you guys are still fighting for - still feeling my way through the system but I am exceedingly grateful for what we have been given as long as it lasts

farming4 Thu 08-Sep-11 18:16:34

sorry should be singing their praises not signing.......although I can do that too! grin

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