My first full time job out of college was getting trained to apply Applied Behavior Analysis strategies with young kids who had developmental delays. I was an ABA behavior therapist, and most of my kids either had Cerebral Palsy or had an Autism Spectrum Disorder. After two years, I moved on to be a Special Education teacher.
Applied Behavior Analysis is the process of studying behavior in order to put into place appropriate behavioral interventions. For my clients, they had goals in the area of adaptive (self help) skills, vocabulary building, social play, and receptive and expressive communication.
The ABA Way:
- Identify and describe objective, observed inappropriate behaviors (usually after a complaint arises or cry for help is made)
- Define the function of the behavior (explain WHY the child is acting the way he/she is)
- Devise a plan for all involved parties to implement (treatment)
Many of the behavioral principles I implemented with my clients can actually applied to typical people, and I have found my ABA training to be beneficial to how I interacted with my students in school as well as my own kids in the home. Actually, I have relied heavily on ABA principles to help shape children with maladaptive behaviors. This very costly therapy is very effective when applied. Some schools even hire full time behaviorists to help them deal with their toughest students.
In my professional work experience, learning ABA strategies has been one of the most valuable skills I’ve gained because it can be applied across various settings and with all ages and types of people.
Why this job only lasted for two years. I’m sure much has changed and improved in the ABA field since I left nearly ten years ago, but I left this job mainly because my company was poorly run and I wanted a more structured work environment. These two years were some of my most cherished professional years.