ABA & 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)

Verbal Behavior:

  • Verbal behavior is a format or protocol for teaching ABA --
  • Verbal behavior is based on the book written by B.F. Skinner in 1957 called, "Verbal Behavior"
  • In his book, Skinner defined verbal behavior as behavior that is reinforced through the mediation of another person's behavior.
  • Skinner viewed language as a learned behavior and that is acquired, extended, and maintained by the same types of environmental variables and principles that control nonlanguage behavior.
  • Skinner believed that a person does not really have functional language until they have learned it across all the functional units.
  • By looking at language in this way we are able to then contend that language is influenced by the environment and we are able to use the science of ABA to develop a strategy to teach functional language.
  • Verbal behavior involves social interactions between speakers and listeners, whereby speakers gain access to reinforcement and control their environment through the behavior of listeners.
  • Skinner's verbal behavior is primarily concerned with the behavior of the speaker. 

Verbal Behavior: The Behavioral Classification of Language

  • Skinner identified six elementary verbal operants to describe verbal behavior:
  • Mand:  a request, asking for reinforcers that you want -- asking for a "cookie" because you want a cookie
  • Tact:  a label, naming or identifying objects, actions, events, etc. -- saying "cookie" when you see a cookie
  • Echoic:  parroting or repeating something you heard -- saying "cookie" because someone else says "cookie"
  • Intraverbal:  filling in the blanks, answering "wh" questions, or having conversations in which your words are controlled by other words -- saying "cookie" when someone says, "something you eat that has chocolate chips in it is a ___"
  • Textual: reading (decoding) the written word (without any implication of understanding the word) -- saying, "cookie" because you saw the written word cookie
  • Transcription: writing and spelling words spoken to you -- writing "cookie" because you heard the word cookie spoken

Teaching to fluency:

  • A child has not truly learned something unless he can produce the answer fluently -- this means that the child must be able to give an answer quickly within a certain period of time -- typically this is within 2-3 seconds -- however, for some children this time may be a bit longer due to processing time
  • A good way to understand fluency is to think about learning your "time tables" -- you would have to learn them quickly and have to use flashcards and answer within a very short period of time -- this was because your teachers were trying to teach you to fluency -- therefore making certain that you really know the answer and can produce it very quickly at anytime.

More verbal behavior information to come....

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