Applied Behavioral Analysis Program


Pre-school children who have been diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay, Pervasive Developmental Disorder NOS or Autism Spectrum Disorder may be eligible to receive ABA services through the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE).

Children at Play’s ABA Program is a home-based intervention program that includes intensive instruction provided by professionals trained in the application of teaching techniques based upon the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis.  Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) uses the scientifically established principles of learning to improve socially important behaviors to a meaningful degree.  In Children at Play’s behavior analytic program, a comprehensive assessment is initially conducted to identify the student’s strengths and vulnerabilities.  The results of this assessment are used to establish the student’s individualized program.  The skills targeted in the student’s individualized program are broken down into small, measurable units.

In addition to identifying skills using a comprehensive assessment, items and activities that are highly preferred to the student are identified using a preference assessment.  These highly preferred items and activities are used to establish a positive rapport between the student and therapist and to make learning fun.  Once the therapist has been associated with highly preferred items and activities, targeted skills will be gradually introduced to the student’s program.  The following are some examples of the behavior analytic procedures used to teach these target skills:

• Positive Reinforcement – the delivery of something desirable immediately after a target behavior occurs.  Positive reinforcement increases the likelihood that the target behavior will occur again.

• Discrete Trial Instruction – a systematic method of teaching.

• Task Interspersal – mixing new skills with skills that the student has already acquired.

• Errorless Learning – a teaching procedure that minimizes errors. Errors are prevented and interrupted whenever possible.

• Shaping – reinforcing attempts that approximate the target behavior. Over time, reinforcement is delivered for those attempts that more closely approximate the target behavior.

• Verbal behavior – a language classification system that identifies different reinforcers for each type of verbal behavior. This system can be used to teach requests (mands), comments (tacts), and conversation (intraverbals).

• Incidental teaching – using situations in the natural environment to encourage the student to initiate an interaction.

• Task Analysis and Chaining – a method used to teach skills that involve many steps (i.e., washing hands, dressing, play skills).

Throughout the instructional sessions, data are recorded to demonstrate that the procedures used are responsible for the improvement in behavior (Baer, Wolf & Risley, 1968; Sulzer-Azaroff & Mayer, 1991). Given that ABA uses only research-validated methods, Children At Play uses only those methods that have been empirically shown to be effective.