What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)/Applied Verbal Behavior (AVB) therapy?
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), previously known as behavior modification, is a therapeutic approach to change behavior which begins by identifying the relationship between one’s behavior and their environment to better understand why they are behaving in a particular way. This is followed by applying a set of behavioral principles and techniques to increase desired behaviors and decrease undesired behaviors.
Applied Verbal Behavior (AVB)
Applied Verbal Behavior (AVB) therapy is a subspecialty of ABA which involves a behavior analysis of the functionality of language. This therapy focuses specifically on how language develops and the conditions in which certain verbal behaviors occur. AVB works to teach different forms and meanings of words so that an individual can have functional language.
Understanding the way in which one word can have different forms and meanings can be complicated so Applied Verbal Behavior breaks the word functions down into specific categories called verbal operants.
To illustrate this concept we can look at the word “candy”.
- Tacting: If you see a piece of candy and say candy you have labeled the object. In AVB we call this tacting.
- Manding: If you see someone eating candy and you want candy as well you might say “I want candy”. In this context the word “candy” is a request. In AVB we call this a mand.
- Identification by Feature/Function/Class: If several objects were in front of you and someone asked you, “Which one of these is something you eat?” and you reply “candy” you are identifying the item by function.
- Intraverbal: If you were asked, “What did you have for snack today?” your response “candy” would be an intraverbal answer because candy was not present.
By combining the behavioral techniques of ABA with the functional language taught by AVB individuals with autism are able to learn to communicate more appropriately, develop stronger social skills, and decrease stereotyped and problem behaviors. ABA/AVB therapy is non-aversive and focuses on rewarding desired positive behavior. Every client has unique strengths and growth areas so the way in which ABA/AVB curriculum is implemented will vary from client to client but generally covers language, social, self-help, gross and fine motor, school readiness, and play skills.