Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the scientific study of behavior and learning. ABA is defined as the science in which the principles of the analysis of behavior are applied systematically to improve socially significant behavior, in which experimentation is used to identify the variable responsible for the change in behavior. (Cooper, Heron, & Heward) In other words it is the use of techniques, such as positive reinforcement, and principles, how learning takes place, to bring about meaningful and positive change in behavior for the individuals we serve. Positive reinforcement is when something preferred follows a behavior and in turn that behavior is more likely to happen in the future.
ABA is endorsed as an effective treatment for autism by the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the U.S. Surgeon General. Behavior analysts began working with young children with autism and related disorders in the 1960’s. Since then research has continued to produce well over 500 articles studying effective techniques for developing useful skills in learners from toddlers to adulthood.
One of the core features of ABA is that it is data based. With this therapy we create individualized goals for our students and take data on those goals to make sure that we are making meaningful changes for the individuals and the caretakers in the student’s life. We are able to tailor each treatment plan we write to the needs of the individual we are serving.
An ABA program consists of a team of highly trained caring individuals. Within the team a Licensed & Board-Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) oversees the programs that are implemented by the therapist. The therapist is the person that works hands on the students that we serve, implementing programs and tracking progress.
Programs target things such as:
- Challenging behaviors
- Social skills
- Communication skills
- Daily living skills
- Much more
ABA therapy can take place in a wide variety of settings including in-home, in center, and within the community. The location depends on what is most advantageous for the student and could potentially take place in all three settings. Programs can be comprehensive or focused depending on the needs of the student and could last a couple of months to across the lifespan of an individual depending on the severity of the disorder.
An ABA program will begin with an initial consultation, followed by an initial assessment, planning, and ongoing assessment to determine the appropriate goals for the student and the effectiveness of the goals and techniques used. Once the treatment plan is created therapists will be matched with the student and begin ongoing services. The BCBA conducts monthly to weekly supervision and parent meetings, depending on the need, to ensure and update the students plan accordingly and guide caregivers and staff in implementing the plan. Our plans include summaries of assessments, background on the student, techniques for preventing, managing, and teaching behavior, specific learning goals, and a fade out timeline. Our goals are to help the individuals we serve and their caregivers to lead happy, healthy, and productive lives.
Our Behavioral Therapy Team
Tara Cottrell, BCBA
Tara Cottrell is VCNH’s Clinical Director of Behavioral Therapy. Tara started in the field of ABA in 2008, just before graduating with her Associate’s in Science in 2009. While continuing to explore her passion for ABA professionally, she continued her studies, receiving her BS in Behavioral Studies, with minor focus in counseling and play therapy, in 2013.
Frank Farino has a Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and special education. He has over 23 years experience in the academic and behavioral development of children and young adults. Frank has been part of the Vanguard Prep School for 6 years and is dedicated in facilitating a nurturing environment for students to grow both academically and socially.
4230 Sigma Road Dallas, TX 75244
PHONE: (214) 356-9364
FAX: (972) 404-1641
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