Verbal Behavior

ABA and Verbal Behavior

What is ABA?

  • ABA stands for Applied Behavior Analysis
  • It is a science of behavior which uses the principles of behavior and applies them to improve socially significant behavior
  • It uses experimentation to identify the variables responsible for the improvement of behavior

What does applied behavior analysis really mean?

  • To better understand what the term applied behavior analysis means, we can break it down into it's components: 
  • Applied: means that the behaviors that are improved must be socially significant -- behaviors that enhance and improve people's lives
  • Behavioral: means that the behavior chosen must be one that requires improvement; it must be measurable; and it must be observable
  • Analytical: means that the experimenter must demonstrate a functional relation between the intervention and the change in the behavior (therefore, there must be proof that the intervention is what caused the change in the behavior)

What is better -- ABA or Verbal Behavior?
  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the umbrella under which different protocols, such as Verbal Behavior, Direct Instruction, Precision Teaching and Lovaas Models fall.
  • So Verbal Behavior is a protocol under the umbrella of ABA.  Verbal Behavior is ABA -- it's just a way of teaching!
  • So, the question of which is better is not really an accurate question.  ABA and Verbal Behavior, in my experience, produce the best results in working with children with autism.
Verbal Behavior:
  • Skinner's book, "Verbal Behavior" (1957) is truly the start of Verbal Behavior as we know it today.
  • In this book, Skinner provides an analysis of language and how language happens. 
  • He see's language as behavior that can be seen and treated like any other behavior.
  •   Skinner viewed speech & communication as behavior.
  •  Every part of language uses the 3-term contingency (A, B, C’s).
  • Ex:     A = desire or motivation for something

B = the verbal behavior (requesting something)

C = the reinforcer (getting what you requested)

  • Communication consists of using gestures, words, sign language, and/or pictures (PECS or Pics).
  • How Skinner analyses language -- The Behavioral Classification of Language:
  • Mands: Which are Requests ("I want cookie")
  • Tacts: Which are Labels ("It's a dog" - when the child see's a dog)
  • Duplic: Motor imitation ("Do this") & Echoic (vocal imitation) ("Say ____")
  • Textual: Written text
  • Intraverbal: Fill-ins; answering “wh” questions (Answering the question:  "What's your name?")
  • Receptive Language: Understanding instructions & following them ("Go get your coat and shoes on")
  • Receptive by Feature, Function & Class (RFFC):  Responding to an item when given a description ("Point to something you drive in")

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