As any of our wonderful therapists will tell you, the study of ABA is a lifetime pursuit. I have been doing this longer than most, and I still feel there is so much to learn. Every child is a new and different challenge, and requires a good therapist to relearn everything. Experience and certification are important, but the most important trait of a good ABA therapist is a desire to keep learning. If your therapist doesn’t have that, find a new one. It’s the number one thing I look for when interviewing new team-members.
Since ABA can never be completely understood, you can imagine how I was thrown by a question I was asked at a psychology conference last month. A woman asked me, “What is the one thing as a parent I need to know about ABA?” One thing? I have trouble narrowing it down to a million. I said something like, “Love is the most important thing” but, have been thinking about it since, and think I have a better answer. Here it is. And it’s not just for parents of special needs children or even all parents; it’s for everyone. This is a cornerstone of ABA, but it can help you understand human interaction. Share this knowledge with all your friends and family and make the world a better place.
The two-minute lesson comes down to A, B, and C.
Everything that someone does has three parts: A (the antecedent, what happens right before the behavior); B (the behavior) and c (the consequence, what happens right after the behavior). Everything. Your child throwing a tantrum. Your husband saying something sarcastic. You losing your patience. Everything. Whenever you want to change a behavior, start first with changing what happens before or after. Whatever reaction is being received should be changed. Whatever circumstances targeted the behavior should be modified. People, especially parents, get frustrated and don’t know where to begin with troublesome behavior. Experiment, like ABA therapists do. You’ll find that you can modify B by experimenting with A and C.