I figure it’s high time I ‘fess up about what exactly it was I did for all those years (1999-~2005; after 2003 I was half doing play therapy, and after 2005 I was doing all respite and community access) I was working as an ABA therapist (that’s Applied Behaviour Analysis). So this post is a description of an ABA session. I’ll be talking mostly about Lovaas-style here, but the basics of how a trial is structured are the same whether you’re talking Lovaas, Carbone, Sundberg & Partington, or whatever.
A “trial” is a discrete trial. ABA’s major foundation is the idea of discrete trial teaching (DTT). There are three components to a discrete trial:
- Antecedent (SD [Discriminative Stimulus]; basically, the command)
- Behaviour (R [Response]; basically, what the student does in response to the command)
- Consequence (SR [Reinforcing Stimulus]; basically, praise or toys or food given for a correct response)
I named them Antecedent, Behaviour, Consequence here because when an ABA therapist is keeping track of behaviours (this term always means “unwanted behaviours” and often means “stimming”) they use an A-B-C sheet, and that’s the information they always keep track of (along with a few other things): what happened just before the behaviour, what the specific behaviour was, and what the student got out of the behaviour.
But I digress. I’ll be using the terms SD, R, and SR throughout the examples in this post.
I’m putting it behind a Read More because it could be triggering for some people. Also, it’s really long. But if you were ever curious about just what ABA is actually like, read this.