Using an Evidence-Based Approach to Make Progress
Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) is an evidence-based approach for creating significant positive behavior change. In our daily work as clinicians (BCBAs, RBTs, and BTs) we collect data on a variety of behaviors. We may carry clipboards with pen and paper, timers, utilize one of the many data collection apps, or even iPads to do so.
As clinicians, we collect data on behaviors we want to improve (skill acquisition) such as a child’s conversations with peers, how well they can dress themselves, to even measuring a child’s performance on receptive skills such as following instructions. We also collect it on behaviors that may impede a child’s ability to learn or work in a less restrictive environment, such as aggression, elopement, or even property destruction. Further, data may be collected on numerous dimensions of behavior such as frequency, duration, latency to respond, and specific steps in a chain of behaviors such as hand washing.
How is Data Useful for ABA Therapy?
Data collection begins from the moment we learn that we will be working with a child, we review their developmental history, treatment history, progress, and parent concerns. The first time we meet a child during their initial assessment we measure their skill repertoire by utilizing any one of several skills assessments (e.g., VB-MAPP, PEAK, AFLS, etc.) while also collecting baseline data on behaviors we need to increase or decrease. All of this information drives what individualized goals we develop to help a client reach their potential in conjunction with behavior data and parent input.
Data collection must be on-going, accurate, and analyzed regularly if it is to be useful. We also use data to help determine if the interventions we have put in place are effective or if we need to modify our intervention (data-based decisions). It is also important to remember that our credentialing Board, the Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB), includes a section on the use of and collection of data, in the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts (2014).
Numerous research articles have focused on the accuracy and reliability of data collection and training of staff to collect data, many of which can be found in our field’s flagship journal, Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, among other publications.
However, with all of this in mind, as we as professionals are collecting data, we keep in mind that we are working with and supporting an individual who is more than numbers and that the decisions that we make will have a powerful impact on not only their daily lives but their future outcomes.
Learn more about what you can expect with your child’s ABA program, visit our webpage “What is ABA?”
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