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What is ABA?

“Applied behavior analysis is the science in which procedures derived from the principles of behaviour are systematically applied to improve socially significant behaviour to a meaningful degree and to demonstrate experimentally that the procedures employed were responsible for the improvement in behaviour” (Cooper, Heron & Heward, 1987).

What is IBI?

IBI stands for Intensive Behavioural Intervention. IBI draws on the ABA knowledge base to develop precise 1:1 teaching procedures for children with autism which rely on reinforcement, intensity (i.e. number of hours practiced per week) and consistency.

What is Verbal Behaviour?

The term “Verbal Behaviour” was first coined by American psychologist B.F. Skinner. Verbal Behaviour is ABA with an emphasis on verbal skills. Basic teaching procedures include: shaping, prompting, fading, chaining and differential reinforcement.

  1. Shaping – A process through which we gradually modify the child’s existing behaviour (including language) into what we want it to be. This is typically done by adjusting the requirements before reinforcement is given. For example, if a child is just learning to say words he/she may only be asked to touch an item before receiving it. Later, we may require the beginning sound, a syllable, an approximation and eventually the entire word.
  2. Prompting (antecedents) – Assistance given by the teacher to promote correct responding. One of the primary difference between most traditional ABA programs and the VB model is the use of “errorless learning” rather than the “no, no, prompt” procedures normally used in traditional ABA models. Prompts range in intrusiveness from physical guidance, to demonstration, verbal cues, positional cues and pointing/gesture.
  3. Fading – Fading is a critical part of teaching children to NOT become dependent on prompts. Any prompts used are systematically removed as the child becomes successful and until he/she can respond correctly without prompts. If we wanted to teach a child touch a ball we may start by physically moving his hand to the ball and then provide a partial physical prompt by just touching his elbow, then pointing to the ball, etc until the child is able to successfully touch the ball independently.
  1. Chaining – Chaining means breaking down skills into their smallest components and then teaching the small units that are ‘chained’ together to teach an entire skill. Forward or backward chaining are both techniques that are frequently used in teaching a new skill. An example of forward chaining may be to teach a child to say a sentence one word at a time (i.e. Say “I”, say “I love”, say “I love you!”). If we taught the same sentence using backward chaining we would teach it from the end first (i.e. Say “You”, say “love you”, say “I love you”).
  2. Differential Reinforcement – Reinforcement is perhaps the most important part of teaching. It involves providing a response to a child’s behaviour that will most likely result in increasing the behaviour. The term “differential” means that we vary the level of reinforcement depending on the child’s response. More difficult tasks may be reinforced heavily whereas mastered tasks may be reinforced less heavily. We must systematically change our reinforcement so that the child eventually will respond appropriately under natural schedules of reinforcement (occasional) with natural types of reinforcers (social).