At the ABA Academy we believe that when implementing interventions and teaching strategies, we are ethically obligated to determine that the strategy is supported by science. That means published research exists that implements direct observation and measurement and repeated demonstration of the results have shown to support reliability of the strategy. It is of the upmost importance that our staff stay up to date with the current research and utilize teaching procedures and practice on instructional strategies that are evidence-based. We conduct professional training days once a month and have weekly staff meetings to review data and discuss student progress. Our certified staff also must complete continuing education courses to maintain certification. Our non-certified staff is held to the same standards and expected to follow ethical guidelines of professional conduct and understand and implement behavior analytic strategies. Our efforts are not only to increase skills, but also to create an atmosphere that reduces the need for children to engage in problem behaviors, and provide them with support when they do so.
Individualized Education Plans:
Parents are required to be active participants in their children’s education. Every Thursday school will close at 1 p.m. so we may have team meetings for individual students. Each family is assigned a specific Thursday of the month and each meeting is required to be attended by at least one care provider. During these meetings data will be reviewed, and both progresses and areas for growth will be discussed. In addition, specific areas of training needs may be demonstrated during this individual time. For example: how to contrive a request, or utilize reinforcement appropriately. Parents will be given a form to complete at the beginning of each month to identify specific areas for discussion.
If you do not have a team meeting schedule and are unable to pick up your child at 1 on Thursday, a social skills group or one-to-one therapy will be offered for an additional cost. Parents who are unable to attend a scheduled IEP meeting should inform our clinical director as soon as possible and make efforts to reschedule this meeting with their child’s teacher.
Maintaining Skill Acquisition:
In addition to students acquiring new skills, it is important to make sure they do not lose skills they have previously attained. The ABA Academy focuses on “The 3 R’s” to aid in the retention of skills and avoid regression or loss of skills. These 3 R’s are essential components of the program in order to ensure that acquired skills are not lost or forgotten. At The ABA Academy, we believe students with autism have the ability to learn with repetition and practice, combined with effective antecedents and reinforcement.
- It is common for our students to need more than once presentation of a skill in order for them to understand a concept to mastery. Many students’ attention, memory and depth of understanding is not sufficient to permit one presentation of teaching. We must expose our students to concepts repetitively and give them opportunities to frequently come in contact with them. Our students benefit from repetition from different sources (teachers, peer, group, one-to-one instruction, etc.) and from different exemplars (spoken word, written word, manipulatives, pictures, song, etc.). It is essential to make sure learned skills generalize across people, places and items.
- Antecedent strategies are a necessary part of effective teaching. Our students do not simply learn from group instruction and apply that knowledge to all circumstances. The more children are reminded of expectations and to use their skills, the less need for them to engage in problematic behavior that interferes with the learning process. At The ABA Academy we frequently use visual cues as reminders for our students throughout the school, both in and out of the classroom. The most effective reminders are tangible and visual, such as signs and posters depicting the skill components (waiting in line, keeping hands to oneself, getting a drink, etc.).
Perhaps the most important of The 3 R’s and everything that occurs in our teaching environment is reinforcing our students for skill acquisition and positive behavior. That is, we praise them or deliver items they enjoy to show them they are meeting expectations, and therefore increase the likelihood that they will continue to do so. We encourage parents to share with us their children’s preferences so we can use them to facilitate the learning process in a positive and successful way. We want to catch our students being good and give them a sense of pride and accomplishment.