ABA therapy for autism

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The most typical component of ABA used is positive reinforcement, which studies have shown to be an effective technique within a variety of settings and circumstances. Ferguson and Rosales-Ruiz (2001) conducted a study in which they utilized positive reinforcement in order to modify the behavior of horses. Prior to the study, the five horses observed were demonstrating inappropriate behaviors while loading into a trailer, which can be dangerous for both caregivers and the animals (p. 409). In order to deter these behaviors, the researchers provided the mares with preferred foods as positive reinforcement as the behavior was gradually shaped. They began by reinforcing approximate behaviors until the desirable behavior was achieved. At first, the horses were reinforced with food for several trials if they simply stepped near the entryway and touched their noses to a towel (the distance marker) without maladaptive behaviors. Over the series of eight steps, the target was pushed farther back into the trailer and the horses were reinforced for each successive approximation (p. 412). After all of the trials, each horse ended up completing the tasks and the inappropriate behaviors thereafter fell to zero. This was completed simply through the use of shaping and positively reinforcing the successive approximations of the behavior without the use of punishment or negative reinforcement (p. 421). Although Ferguson and Rosales-Ruiz (2001) conducted a study with horses, their findings can be replicated and generalized to humans as well. Schmidt, Luiselli, Rue, and Whalley (2013) developed a similar study involving an adolescent boy with Autism. This participant was a student who consistently avoided the music room, gymnasium, and gross-mot... ... middle of paper ... ... cited in Dorey et al., 2009). This large percentage indicates that extinction of these reinforcers could lead to a decrease in these behaviors. An earlier study supported this claim by conducting research with children with Autism engaging in SIBs. Hanley, Pizaaz, Fisher, and Maglieri (2005) developed a study with a young boy with Autism who engaged in SIBs. After a functional assessment, the researchers found that his behaviors had been maintained by tangibles and attention. Whenever the subject began producing maladaptive behaviors, his mother would present a toy and verbal attention in order to elicit calmness. Similar to the research completed by Dorey et al. (2009), the researchers extinguished this reinforcement and rewarded alternative positive behaviors. When this was carried out, the SIBs decreased and more acceptable forms of communication were utilized.

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