Elements of an ABA program with an Emphasis in Verbal Behavior

Break-Down of Verbal Behavior Components

Verbal Behavior focuses on mand-training (requesting needs/wants) as the top priority!

Supports a developmental approach to learning language

  • Similar to a typical child’s language acquisition, first words taught are related to motivations in the child’s environment; typically ma-ma, da-da, ba-ba, all motivating to a typical child.

VB relies heavily on positive reinforcement and always considers the child’s motivation

  • Resistance to learning is significantly minimized when motivation of the learner is considered. With a motivated learner, skills are taught without many negative/task-avoidant behaviors impeding learning.
  • A learner who is not enjoying the learning process is not blamed or made to comply through direct interventions. Instead the teacher uses the student’s motivation to establish instructional control.

VB uses Errorless Teaching, therefore Errorless Learning!

  • Increases the number of trials that can completed, therefore increasing the number of opportunities to learn. Keeps success rates high, making reinforcement available at higher rates, duration, etc.
  • Uses most-to-least prompting- increasing the number of correct trials therefore, decreases the number of trials needed to acquire the skill

VB mixes and varies tasks

  • Mass-trials are not used as in traditional Lovaas-based programs. Instead of repetitively presenting trials to the learner regardless of his/her success in responding, sufficient trials are delivered and freed of its prompts as the learner demonstrates his/her individual success with the targeted response.
  • Responses are mixed across skill domains and varied across response forms.This aids in maintaining a student’s attention. With the environment changing and unpredictable, attention is maintained for longer amounts of time
  • This also helps to closer replicate natural language, making generalization embedded within teaching sequences.
  • A speaker and listener in the natural environment will cross various operants throughout a conversation.
    • For example, a listener is not exposed to a speaker asking to receptively identify 10 objects in a row during a conversation, but instead is asked various types of questions evoking different responses are components of all conversational skills.VB teaches in the natural environment

Natural Environment Training (NET) makes up 80% (sometimes more) of all teaching during the initial stages of the program.

  • Encourages generalization into the natural environment without the need for extensive and exhaustive generalization training at a later time.
  • Increases the number of opportunities for trials with family members and caretakers- supporting further generalization.

VB typically uses a quicker more natural pace

  • Keeps stimulus presentation at a rate that supports generalization since it closely resembles the rate of stimuli presentations found in the natural environment
  • Keeps the opportunity to demonstrate inappropriate/negative behaviors to a minimum

VB relies on probe data rather than recording every response

  • Provides sufficient information to make sound, educational decisions relative to task acquisition Keeps note-taking time from consuming teaching time

Staff are trained to respond from moment to moment in a dynamic fashion to the changing motivation of the student based upon the principles of the science of ABA and not a predetermined reinforcer, which may likely lose its value/effectiveness quickly across trials.