Program and BIP Implementation

Creating a plan is only the first step for helping your clients realize their full potential. Without successful implementation of that plan your clients won’t see the gains you expect. These posts will help you effectively implement ABA interventions


Reinforcer Assessments or Preference Assessments for Children with Autism

Selecting reinforcers that are sufficiently motivating for your learner is critical to the success of your reinforcement strategy. Preference for a reinforcer is often fluid. These assessments will help you determine what will be most effective with your client.

Is the Distinction Between Positive and Negative Reinforcement and Punishment Necessary?

Traditionally, reinforcement and punishment have been divided to include positive and negative references. Breaking down these concepts in this way creates 4 terms:

  • Positive Reinforcement
  • Negative Reinforcement
  • Positive Punishment
  • Negative Punishment

These terms often create confusion, especially among those just entering the field. Is this level of distinction really important? This post explains our view.

What I Wish I Knew About Positive and Negative Reinforcement

Positive and negative reinforcement occur when a consequence follows a behavior and the behavior occurs more often in the future. Positive reinforcement occurs when a stimulus is added and negative reinforcement occurs when a stimulus is removed. What does this mean for you if you’re working in the field of ABA? Find out what I wish I knew when I first started.

Reinforcement and Punishment in ABA: 3 Facts You Need to Know

This post helps you understand these 3 important concepts regarding reinforcement and punishment:

  • Positive and Negative Reinforcement and Punishment
  • Unintended Effects of Reinforcement and Punishment
  • Ethical Considerations of Reinforcement and Punishment

If you’re going to use reinforcement or punishment in your program you should understand these key ideas.

How do I Choose Between Schedules of Reinforcement?

Schedules of reinforcement determine how often and how predictably reinforcement occurs. Each of the 4 different types of schedules provides different advantages and disadvantages:

  • Fixed Ratio
  • Variable Ratio
  • Fixed Interval
  • Variable Interval

Learn when you should use each of these strategies.

Changing Reinforcement Strategies to Improve Instructional Control

Staff routinely “pair” themselves with reinforcement to establish instructional control. But what if the reinforcement strategy you’re using is actually making you aversive to your client? Don’t miss this post!

Token Economy: Examples and Applications in ABA

Token economy is a reinforcement strategy where generalized reinforcers (tokens) are exchanged for backup reinforcers (something the learner wants). Research shows that this intervention is effective across environments including home, school, and in-patient programs. Due to its versatility, it’s important to consider how you might include a token economy in your plan. This post includes examples to give you ideas.

Using Token Economy to Build Intrinsic Motivation

Ultimately we all want our learners to intrinsically motivated (motivated without external reinforcement), however this needs to be developed over time. Token economies can be used to help teach intrinsic motivation by delaying reinforcement. Thinning the schedule of reinforcement helps build intrinsic motivation. You’ll learn more here.

Differential Reinforcement

Differential Reinforcement: A Complete Guide

Differential reinforcement (DR) is an effective ABA intervention when used correctly. With this strategy, therapists reinforce one topography of behavior while putting all other responses on extinction. Five main varieties offer options for behaviors to reinforce:

  1. DRO-Differential reinforcement of other behavior
  2. DRA-Differential reinforcement of alternative behavior
  3. DRI-Differential reinforcement of incompatible behavior
  4. DRL-Differential reinforcement of lower rates of behavior
  5. DRH-Differential reinforcement of higher rates of behavior

This complete guide will help you understand each DR strategy, how to implement them and when to use each one.

What You Need to Know About DRO

When using Differential Reinforcement of Other Behavior (DRO), therapists reinforce the absence of the target behavior. While this can be confusing to those used to reinforcing the presence of a behavior, ultimately this strategy results in a decrease in the target behavior. Learn when you should use DRO and how to effectively use this strategy.

What is the Difference Between DRA and DRI?

Both DRA and DRI reinforce a functionally equivalent replacement behavior while limiting or eliminating reinforcement for the maladaptive behavior. The subtle yet highly important difference between these 2 interventions lies in the relationship of the alternative behavior to the target behavior. If the alternative behavior you choose to reinforce is incompatible with the target behavior, then the intervention is a DRI procedure. This post explains this difference further and how to successfully use each procedure.

Use DRL to Reduce Behaviors, Not Eliminate Them

Differential Reinforcement of Low Rates of Behavior (DRL) provides a system for reducing a behavior without eliminating it. This strategy works well to reduce the occurrence of extinction bursts and can be effective in gradually shaping behavior. Learn more about DRL in this post.

ABA Interventions

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Discrete Trial Training (DTT)

Many people who object to ABA therapy do so because they equate therapy with Discrete Trial Training (DTT). DTT also referred to as Discrete Trial Intervention (DTI), is a structured method of teaching skills to children that is often misunderstood and misused. Understand DTT and the correct use of this strategy so you can help dispel the myths and effectively use DTT when needed.

4 Things You Need to Know About Errorless Learning

Errorless learning is an effective intervention using prompting to reduce the occurrence of errors, which can be especially beneficial when your learner is easily frustrated when making mistakes. Here are 4 important things you need to know before using this strategy:

  1. Errorless learning is an antecedent intervention
  2. There are many advantages and disadvantages
  3. Errorless learning isn’t appropriate for every learner
  4. There are 4 steps to implement errorless learning

Read this post to learn more.

A New Perspective on the Prompt Hierarchy

Using prompts is an effective approach for teaching new skills and reducing challenging behaviors. However, fading prompts is a critical piece of using this intervention effectively. Although professionals often refer to this prompt hierarchy as one sequence of prompts that can be followed in ascending or descending order of intrusiveness, in reality, there are 3 distinct hierarchies. Prompts from one hierarchy may naturally be included during prompt fading when using one of the other hierarchies. This post explains more.

What is Pivotal Response Training (PRT)?

Pivotal Response Training (PRT) focuses on improving skills in 4 pivotal areas that, once learned, help the child acquire other skills more rapidly. These areas are:

  • Motivation
  • Initiation
  • Multiple cues
  • Self-management

This post goes into detail for each area of learning.

Should I Use Natural Environment Teaching (NET) or Discrete Trial Training (DTT)?

While research supports both the use of Natural Environment Teaching (NET) and Discrete Trial Training (DTT), the decision to use one over the other should depend on the needs of your learner. This post explains the benefits of each approach, and the considerations for including each in your plan.

5 Ways to Use the Premack Principle You Haven’t Tried

The Premack Principle, or First/Then, states that a behavior an individual chooses to do on his own will reinforce a less preferred behavior. While this intervention is commonly used to reduce demand refusal, this post explains 5 other ways you can use this strategy to help your learner.

Using Visual Schedules to Teach On-Task Behavior

Visual schedules such as calendars and to-do lists help keep all of us on task and help us remember what we need to do. This intervention can be especially useful for children with autism. This article will provide detail about when and how to best use this intervention.

5 Things You Need to Know About FCT

Due to deficits in effective communication, children with autism often rely on challenging behavior as a form of communication to get their needs met. Functional Communication Training can help provide tools these learners can use to get their needs met in place of these behaviors. This post explains 5 key points from the research you should understand before including FCT in your plan.

Matching Law: Practical Applications in ABA

The Matching Law is a behavioral principle that states that behavior occurs in proportion to reinforcement available for each behavior. By intentionally applying this law, you are able to manipulate concurrent schedules to influence behavior. This strategy is an especially effective alternative to extinction. Learn more.

Parent Engagement

5 Ways to Engage Parents to Build Generalization at Home

Engaging parents in treatment leads to more effective generalization at home with less intervention from professionals. Behavioral skills training (BST) provides a framework for teaching parents (Lafasakis & Sturmey, 2007), yet fails to offer a way to ensure parent participation. Five of the best strategies you can use include:

  • Build a Rapport
  • Assess the Parents’ Reinforcers
  • Be Flexible about Training
  • Set Realistic Goals
  • Use a Homework Calendar

This post explains more.