Applied Behavior Analysis with an emphasis on Verbal Behavior (ABA/VB) is a methodology, based on research, that is used to address functional skills, such as language/communication, self-help skills, play skills, social skills, and complying with instruction. Verbal behavior services consist of 2-4 hour sessions, 3 to 5 times weekly.
Verbal Therapy Programs
If your child is exhibiting difficulty with communication skills Verbal Behavior therapy may be beneficial. Verbal behavior therapy is a methodology used to address skill deficits based on the basic principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. Verbal behavior services typically consist of 2-4 hour sessions which are spent 1:1 with the child and therapist. There are several domains of Verbal Behavior that we work on, which we refer to as verbal operants.
These operants include:
Manding – this refers to your child’s ability to request items or activities
Tacting – this includes your child’s ability to label items they encounter in their everyday life
Motor Imitation – this skill is taught to assist children in acquiring gross motor and fine motor control
Echoics – this entails repeating sounds, words, or phrases in order to promote speech development
Intraverbals – this refers to the ability to answers questions, complete fill-in-the-blank statements or otherwise carry a conversation
Receptive Tasks – this skill refers to following instructions to perform a task
What to Expect During an ABA Therapy Session
Targeted skills are taught during discrete trial training (DTT) at the table and in the playroom during natural environment teaching (NET) and manding (requesting) sessions. During DTT, the therapist and child work on targeted skills at the table. The length of time spent at the table depends on the learner, but usually ranges from 10-45 minutes during each hour. Throughout this time, the therapist is using positive reinforcement, prompting, and correction procedure to maximize your child’s rate of progress. NET and manding sessions are conducted while your child is in our playroom. During NET, we are continually working on your child’s skills by making learning creative and engaging. All verbal operants are covered by placing demands related to the activity. For example, when playing with a kitchen set, the learner may be asked to tact (label) different foods, imitate stirring a pot, find the 2 button on the microwave, and answer questions such as “What do you do with a fork?”
For many children, the focus of their programming is improving functional communication, specifically requesting skills. This is done throughout the session, but especially during NET. The therapist engages your child in an activity, creating opportunities to teach mands (requests for items/actions). For example, if playing with trains, the therapist can teach your child to request items such as trains, tracks, a bridge, and a tunnel, as well as actions such as pushing a train down the track, letting go of an item, and placing the track on the table. We also teach children to generalize requests to other settings, as well as promoting eye contact while making requests. Because each child presents a unique skillset, programming will be individualized for each child’s needs. Data collection methods are individualized to your child, but typically represent the percentage of requests that your child emitted independently. Our verbal behavior programming is based off of the PEAK curriculum (see our blog post for more information about why BCOTB uses PEAK over other curricula). If your child needs our assistance in areas that fall outside of this programming, our analysts can create individualized programs to suit their needs.
BCOTB can help with challenging behaviors that your child may exhibit. As the problem behaviors are observed, data will be recorded on what occurred immediately before the behavior occurred and what occurred immediately afterwards. This process is done in order to better understand the reasons why your child may be engaging in these behaviors. We call this the function of the behavior. Once the function is determined, an intervention will be developed to reduce the problem behaviors and teach appropriate prosocial skills. For example, if a child whines in order to get a cookie or have access to the playroom, we may intervene by teaching him or her to request things appropriately.
Once the child has learned to do this, he or she will only receive a cookie or access to the playroom when they request it appropriately and not when they whine. We always try to reduce the likelihood that problem behavior will occur by regularly praising children or otherwise reinforcing appropriate behavior. Other times we may offer them a promise reinforcer, such as offering a small toy that will be given to the child if they transition from a preferred activity (playing) to a lesser preferred activity (work). The behavior plan will be individualized for your child’s challenging behaviors. We graph the rate of problem behavior daily in order to monitor progress.
Although Functional Behavior Assessments (FBA) typically provide a wealth of information regarding your child’s problem behaviors, there are times when more intensive assessment procedures are necessary in order to pinpoint the factors maintaining the behaviors. A Functional Analysis (FA) can be conducted as a way to methodically test numerous variables so that our clinicians can confidently determine the function(s) of your child’s behavior and develop effective function-based intervention.
Our programming is based off of the Verbal Behavior Milestones and Placement Program (VB-MAPP) developmental curriculum. For more information, please contact us at 813-814-2000.
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