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Five Components of Applied Behavior Analysis

  • Task Analysis
  • Chaining
  • Prompting
  • Fading
  • Shaping

A common therapeutic technique used in behavior modification is applied behavior analysis, or ABA. It has been proven particularly effective in those diagnosed with autism and similar developmental disorders. The strategy is based upon making changes to the environment in a way that significantly impact an individual’s behavior, with the end goal being to produce positive actions and reduce negative ones. It’s important to analyze behaviors as they occur in order to identify the antecedent, or the action the individual was supposed to perform, the behavior itself and that consequence, which is the positive or negative response to the given behavior. This is known as the ABC model of behavior modification. There are also specific components that are crucial to any quality ABA program. Let’s take a look at those.

1. Task Analysis

Task analysis is the process of analyzing components in a task or antecedent in order to teach each part through further behavioral strategies. Breaking an antecedent down into its parts makes any weak links easier to identify so that each specific behavior can be addressed in a proactive manner.

2. Chaining

Chaining is when that skill that is being learned is then broken down into its smaller parts, allowing for ease of understanding and learning. This component of applied behavioral analysis can be applied to nearly any new skill. For instance, rather than instruct a child to clean his room, it would be more beneficial to break the process down to its parts. You could first teach him how to make his bed. Once that skill is mastered, move on to straightening clutter, vacuuming the floor and so on.

3. Prompting

Prompting uses guidance and support to give individuals a nudge or a reminder when they are struggling to demonstrate a newly-learned skill. A prompt kelps to keep them on track or to avert a misstep. This technique can help to lessen “failures” or “meltdowns”, increasing self-esteem and leading to a positive outcome.

4. Fading

It’s important that clients not become depending upon prompting, however. You ultimately want them to feel secure in completing skills on their own without assistance. That’s where fading comes in. This term refers to the process of gradually removing prompts until the individual can confidently perform an activity without them.

5. Shaping

Shaping is giving a form of positive reinforcement when clients demonstrate positive attempts or success at performing a newly learned skill. The important part to remember with shaping is that improvement must be consistently shown in order for the reinforcement to be given. Status quo level performance would not receive positive acknowledgement, only regular improvement. The reasoning is that this type of positive reinforcement strategically encourages the individual to work toward mastery of a skill.

ABA is a proven method of successful behavior modification. However, it’s absolutely necessary that these components of behavior analysis be in place if a plan is to work as it should.

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