When we were first looking into starting an applied behavior analysis (ABA) program for our autistic son we weren’t sure exactly what it involved. All we had heard was that ABA is the foundational treatment for many children with autism and that many autistic children have a huge amount of success with their programs. That was enough for us to pursue this treatment option for our son. However, it wasn’t until after we had started the program that we really learned what an ABA program involves.
This post will simply be a list of some of the ABA goals our son has had during his program. Although we wanted our son to participate in an applied behavior analysis program, we were hesitant in some regards because of our lack of knowledge of what goes on in an ABA program. It is hoped that this information will be of use to parents interested in the detailed activities of applied behavior analysis. This is just an outline of the program. Future posts will elaborate on what each of the individual goals is designed to accomplish.
A Sampling of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Goals
- Will approach habilitator when a response is required for reinforcement
- Will put a puzzle with multiple connecting pieces in an insert type frame together
- Will build a block design from a picture
- Will create a sequence pattern to match a visual model (i.e. Red, blue, red, blue, red, blue).
- Will match associated pictures (i.e. Bat and ball, sock and shoe)
- Will respond to own name
- Will follow instructions to do a simple motor action (i.e. Blow kiss, hug, slide)
- Will follow instructions to select one of two reinforcing items (i.e. “Give me the ____”)
- Will follow instructions to select common objects (i.e. “Point to the _______”)
- Will take a common object when offered (i.e. “Take this”)
- Will imitate actions from songs (i.e. Ring Around the Rosy)
- Will imitate arm and hand movements (i.e. Clap hands)
- Will label common ongoing actions (i.e. Sleeping, laughing, bouncing)
- Will fill in words from a song
- Will wash and dry hands (i.e. Perform each step)
- Will snip with scissors
- Will put pants on independently
- Will match his name card independently in a field of three names
- Will touch his own body parts (i.e. “Show me your arm”)
- Will label common objects (i.e. Chair, shoe, boat, swing)
- Will label pictures of common objects
- Will label people in his environment (i.e. Mom, dad)
- Will label four pieces of clothing (i.e. Shoes, socks, shirt, pants)
- Will return greetings (i.e. “Hi” or “Bye”)
- Will continue to count to 10 if started with 1, 2,…
- Will string beads
- Will place pegs in peg board
These are just some of the ABA goals that our son currently has or has had in his program. Each of these goals has associated levels. The first level is not as demanding as the second, third, or fourth level. For example, the puzzle goal becomes harder with each level. Level 1 requires that 1 puzzle with at least 5 pieces is put together. Level 2 requires that 2 puzzles with at least 5 pieces are put together. Level 3 requires 4 puzzles with at least 5 pieces be assembled. Finally, level 4 requires that 4 puzzles with at least 8 pieces be put together. When one level is mastered you proceed to the next level. A level is considered mastered when the child with autism can accomplish the task between 5 to 7 times in a row.
The goals in an applied behavior program are designed to help the child develop lacking verbal, social, and motors skills. Each goal is designed to focus on one particular area. It might be something as simple as eye contact or something more difficult such as labeling an object using the appropriate word. The goals help the child fill in developmental gaps.
Starting an ABA program was one of the best decisions we have made for our son with autism. It is definitely the foundational treatment upon which all other therapies and treatments build. We have been fortunate to have dedicated and talented habilitators (see The Fantastic Four ABA Habilitators). We hope that our son will continue to have success as he journeys through his applied behavior analysis program.