The what is it & why....
Everyday, in every corner of the globe, individuals are doing their best in a growing busy world full of tasks, routines & challenges. Whether its running a home, raising a family, teaching your pet knew skills, assessing risk, educating students or organising staff, the principles of applied behaviour analysis (ABA) are a scientific way of either increasing desired behaviours or decreasing those behaviours which are undesired, behaviours that are socially significant. One of these challenges for so many, is parenting. Raising children has never been busier, despite an ocean size of information out there, resources & services. Although, despite support & advice, even with a football team size group of professionals, sometimes behaviours are just not shifting. Parents, families & teachers are facing more challenges each day, as the demands of society, our environments, peers & events, impact on growing children. Sometimes doing your best is exhausting, if not frustrating. Children are responding to all that is happening around them, to them & within the varying contexts in which they develop, learn & grow.
Changing behaviours means understanding the why, the function of the behaviour. It requires gathering information from a variety of sources, from observations, interviews, gathering data on how often the behaviour occurs, what does it look like, how intense it may be, how long does it last. A behaviour analyst seeks to understand what might trigger the behaviour & what may reinforce or make the behaviour more likely to keep occurring. Behaviour analysis begins with identifying the behaviour. As fun as it could be to predict like magic or read you like a recipe, this isn't what ABA is about. Applied behaviour analysis is a science, it's about what we can measure & observe, that way it makes providing support accurate, something we see across environments, is consistent with science being systematic. As a behaviour analyst, it's examining the behaviour so we understand why the behaviour is occurring, then plan to potentially do something different, replace the challenging behaviour with a desired behaviour or maybe it's increasing a positive behaviour, it could be changing what might be increasing the behaviour occurring or making or making it more likely to occur in the future. It is important to understand the function of the behaviour to provide supports in order to achieve an effective outcome. For one young person I know, who struggled to wake up for school in time, she started with changing her behaviour by setting the alarm clock loud enough to hear it going off each morning. When the alarm clock buzzes, she roles over & turns it off, removing the sound & increasing her likelihood to get up on time! An example of negative reinforcement.