Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a science that involves using modern behavioral learning theory to modify behaviors. Behavior analysts reject the use of hypothetical constructs and focus on the observable relationship of behavior to the environment. By functionally assessing the relationship between a targeted behavior and the environment, the methods of ABA can be used to change that behavior. Research in applied behavior analysis ranges from behavioral intervention methods to basic research which investigates the rules by which humans adapt and maintain behavior.
Janice M. Pellecchia, M.A., BCBA (2003)
Pairing and Reinforcement
A better way to establish instructional control is for teachers to first pair themselves with positive reinforcement (pairing). Pairing begins with non contingent reinforcement, meaning that the student is first reinforced without having demands placed on him or her. Technically, the reinforcement is still contingent, as there must be an absence of undesired behavior (tantrums, aggression, SIB, etc.) for reinforcement to be delivered. Initially the only requirement for accessing reinforcement (besides the lack of undesirable behavior) is that the student takes the reinforcers from the teacher. After this is happening consistently, the teacher must gradually fade in demands, slowly increasing the response requirement before reinforcement is delivered.
Reinforcement is a term in operant conditioning and behavior analysis for the process of increasing the rate or probability of a behavior (e.g., pulling a lever more frequently) in the form of a "response" by the delivery or emergence of a stimulus (e.g. a candy) immediately or shortly after performing the behavior. The response strength is assessed by measuring frequency, duration, latency, accuracy, and/or persistence of the response after reinforcement stops. Experimental behavior analysts measured the rate of responses as a primary demonstration of learning and performance in non-humans (e.g., the number of times a pigeon pecks a key in a 10-minute session). A reinforcer is the stimulus, event, or situation that is presented or otherwise emerges when the response behavior is performed.
Instructional control "may be" described in terms such as, compliance training, developing a master/apprentice relationship, or earning your child's respect. It usually involves pairing yourself with reinforcement and slowly adding simple instructions to the play.
Discrete Trial Teaching is a specific method of teaching used to maximize learning. It is a teaching technique or process used to develop many skills, including cognitive, communication, play, social and self-help skills. It emphasizes positive reinforcement to teaching essential skills.
Manding and Establishing Operations
Manding or requesting is defined as being controlled by conditions of deprivation or aversive stimulation called "establishing operations". Establishing operation (EO) is defined as "an environmental event that affects an organism by momentarily altering (a) the reinforcing effectiveness of other events and (b) the frequency of occurrence of that part of the organism's repertoire relevant to those events as consequences". That is, establishing operations can be loosely considered to be similar to motivation. In order to use the establishing operations, the reinforcing effectiveness of situations, objects, or events must be captured or contrived. This involves capitalizing on the establishing operations or motivation as it occurs naturally in the environment or manipulating the situation that alters the value of another object or event as a form of reinforcement.
Natural Environment Teaching
Sundberg & Partington have developed the method of Natural Environment Training (NET). This model capitalizes on establishing operations to build spontaneity. Specifically, the instructor assesses what the learner is motivated by at that particular moment in time. The instructor targets requesting (manding) as the initial skill. The learner's skills in requesting are built through the constant processes of capturing and contriving establishing operations. The learner's spontaneous mands are counted and increased. The instructor serves as an agent of reinforcement, which builds rapport. Gradually, demands are faded into the instructional context and small delays in the receipt of desired items are implemented. In this way, the instructional context begins to include instructor demands as well as learner requests.
Natural Environment Training is similar to the Natural Language Paradigm (NLP) and to Pivotal Response Training, which both emphasized the use of intrinsically motivating materials, teaching in natural contexts, and focusing on the child's immediate interests to guide language instruction (Koegel, O'Dell, & Koegel, 1987; Laski, Charlop, & Schreibman, 1988). NLP, as described by Koegel, Koegel, & Surrat (1992) involves items chosen by the child, variations in instructional targets every few trials, loose shaping contingencies, natural reinforcers, and playful interactions. NET is usually conducted in the child's typical daily environment (Sundberg & Partington, 1999). Sundberg and Partington have used the context of Skinner's analysis of verbal behavior to analyze the utility of both DTT and NET in instructing children with autism, and have created an instructional model based on this analysis.