What is Behavior Skills Training in ABA Therapy?
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy is a widely recognized and effective approach for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disorders. Within the framework of ABA, there are various techniques and strategies used to promote positive behavioral changes, one of which is Behavior Skills Training (BST).Behavior Skills Training is a structured and evidence-based teaching method designed to teach specific skills and behaviors by breaking them down into manageable steps. Behavior skills training incorporates several key components, making it a valuable tool in promoting learning and change.
Behavior skills training is a well-established method to teach new skills to anyone! In our clinics, BST is facilitated by Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs), who use the following steps:
In this phase, ABA therapists provide clear and concise instructions on the target behavior or skill that needs to be learned. These instructions are often accompanied by visual aids or written materials to enhance understanding. For instance, if the target behavior is “making a request,” the therapist may provide step-by-step instructions like, “Say ‘Can I have…?’ when you want something.”
Following the instruction, ABA therapists will demonstrate the target behavior or skill. This step allows children to observe the correct execution of the behavior, providing a visual reference for how it should be done. Using our previous example, the therapist might model by saying, “Can I have the toy, please?”
After the instruction and modeling, the child is given the opportunity to practice the behavior or skill themselves. The therapist provides feedback and guidance as necessary to ensure the child’s understanding and competence. In this stage, the child might be encouraged to make requests to peers or adults while the therapist observes and provides feedback.
Feedback is a crucial component of behavior skills training. The therapist provides constructive feedback, reinforcing correct responses and addressing errors gently and supportively. This step is essential for refining the child’s performance. For instance, if the child successfully makes a polite request, the therapist might say, “Great job using your words to ask for what you want!”
Behavior skills training creates a positive impact on communication skills, social skills, and overall quality of life in children with autism spectrum disorder. The benefits of behavior skills training for children include:
- Focused Support: BST provides children with targeted support, addressing their unique needs and helping them acquire crucial life skills. By tailoring interventions to individual strengths and challenges, children can progress at their own pace.
- Empowerment: Children with autism gain the skills they need to communicate, interact, and manage their behaviors effectively. BST fosters independence, self-confidence, and a sense of agency, allowing them to participate more actively in their own development.
- Family-Centered Approach: BST promotes a family-centered approach to therapy, fostering a supportive and nurturing environment for children with ASD. This inclusive approach ensures that the family unit works together to support the child’s growth and well-being.
- Skill Generalization: Children learn to apply newly acquired skills in various real-life situations, enhancing their adaptability and social integration. BST’s emphasis on generalization ensures that skills are not confined to therapy sessions but are woven into the fabric of daily life.
- Reduced Challenging Behaviors: By teaching children alternative, adaptive behaviors, BST can help reduce challenging behaviors that often pose obstacles to learning, socialization, and home life.
Empower Behavioral Health is dedicated to providing high-quality ABA therapy, including behavior skills training, to empower children with developmental challenges. Our team of Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) assesses each child’s unique needs and create an evidence-based treatment plan tailored to their strengths. Find an ABA location near you or contact us to get started with ABA today.