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Frequently Asked Questions

What is ABA?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a field of scientific study devoted to the identification of effective interventions for the development of meaningful skills and the replacement of behaviors that interfere with an individual's success in everyday life. It also involves the systematic and effective application of those interventions to real-world situations. ABA is a discipline that relies on observable, objective measures of achievement and growth.

What is a BCBA?

Board Certified Behavior Analysts are professionals holding a Master's degree or higher who have been credentialed by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. This involves completing a rigorous program of behavior analytic coursework, a minimum of 1500 hours of supervised experience, and passing a comprehensive exam. Once credentialed, certification is then maintained through a program of meeting ongoing educational requirements and ethical standards in practice.

How might a BCBA contribute to an educational team?

Schools rely heavily on language-based and social models of learning to teach students. Children impacted by ASD and other developmental disabilities who may struggle with language processing and social functioning, often benefit from a behavioral model of learning. In behavioral models, students are given a more active role in the learning process with increased opportunities for responding and repeated practice. Learning is supported by a hierarchy of prompting strategies, systematic prompt fading, effective use of reinforcement, shaping, and error correction techniques identified as effective within the field of applied behavior analysis. Overseeing the implementation of effective instruction using ABA techniques involves student assessment, the selection of pivotal developmental skills, writing instructional programs that break complex skills down into teachable components, identification of effective reinforcers, selection of materials based on student interest and preference, embedding choice into instructional routines, continuous staff training, and ongoing program analysis based on outcome data. While many of these functions parallel those of traditional teaching and special education, there is little in the certification process of regular and special education teachers that prepare them to work effectively with either a behavior analytic model of instruction or with student on the autism spectrum.

How can a BCBA be helpful in addressing challenging behavior that may interfere with learning?

Through their training, BCBA's have in their skill set the ability to, with input from a student's team and careful observation, conduct thorough Functional Behavior Assessments and to use the information from those assessments to develop targeted and comprehensive behavior support plans. A skilled BCBA will then ensure that all team members clearly understand the identified patterns that contribute to maintaining challenging behavior and are able to competently implement interventions aimed at developing and maintaining alternative responses. Behavioral progress will then be monitored and the results shared with the team.

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