Advocating for Public School ABA Programs
How To Get ABA Through Public Schools
Working with Administrators
While many school districts won’t advertise that they “do ABA,” all public schools are required to provide students with disabilities with a free and appropriate education. The use of Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, in the education of students with autism is well-supported by a large body of literature.
Please visit the Library of Articles and read the articles about ABA efficacy Many of these articles may be useful to share with teachers, special education administrators, or school board members.
Assessments and Data Collection
Prior to developing IEP objectives and/or a Behavior Improvement Plan (BIP), a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) should be conducted, in accordance with the autism supplement (link to autism supplement page).
An FBA will help identify the underlying functions of behaviors. Once those functions have been identified, effective BIP strategies can be determined. For example, if the function of a child’s problem behavior is determined to be to gain the teacher’s attention, a strategy such as planned ignoring can be implemented.
An FBA can also be used to help improve IEP outcomes. For example, if student is failing to make progress on academic objectives, an FBA can be conducted to determine what type, frequency, or strength of reinforcers are needed to improve student performance.
Using the Individual Education Plan (IEP) effectively
Sometimes the use of ABA techniques can be compelled through a carefully crafted IEP.
When objectives are clear, very specific (as opposed to broad), and any observer can objectively determine whether or not the skill is being performed, the data collection system for teachers becomes easier and more accurate.
The BIP provides an opportunity for parents to be involved in determining the strategies for improving behaviors. Based on the results of the FBA, the ARD committee can determine what types of interventions are appropriate. Educators, and sometimes parents, first think of punishment options, such as detention, loss of privileges, or a visit to the principal. Other strategies which should be considered are reinforcement systems; such as token systems, or differential reinforcement of other, alternative, or incompatible behaviors; prompting sequences; visual aides; errorless learning procedures; and structured activities.
Working with Teachers
Many teachers are receptive to learning new techniques which improve their abilities to effectively teach students with autism. FEAT provides scholarships to teachers for workshops, conferences, and graduate course work in ABA. Invite your child’s teachers to attend these events. And…remember the rules of reinforcement apply to everyone – be sure to thank and encourage those teachers who employ the principles of ABA in their classrooms!