The overarching goal is for children to learn that communication and social interaction have value and that by engaging in certain behaviors, they can access that value whenever they want.
Behavior Interventions Inc. Early Intervention (EI) program provides specialized instruction based on the science of applied behavior analysis. Children can attend 1-5 days per week (M-F) between the hours of 9 – 12 pm. Within the program, each child’s current skills are assessed in order to create individualized teaching programs to meet their needs. An emphasis is placed on teaching communication and social skills but teaching is always designed to develop skills helpful for the child.
Social interaction with others is the primary goal of the program, however, treatment is provided in a way that gradually introduces social activity as each child learns the skills to be successful. Each child receives 1:1 support every day along with a Board-certified Behavior Analyst® that oversees all aspects of treatment.
PA & NJ Treatment Centers
Hours: 9AM – 12PM
Assessments utilized within the program
- Verbal Behavior Milestones and Assessment Placement Program©
- Promoting the Emergence of Advanced Knowledge – Relational Training Series©
- Direct observation of behaviors during interaction with staff or other children in the program
- Direct testing of skills by staff
Instruction strategies utilized within the program
- Building the value of communication and social interaction by limiting aversive events and maximizing access to preferred items or activities while engaging with others and communicating
- Repetitious practice of behaviors with prompts or guides as to the desired behavior
- Modeling, guiding, and prompting of behaviors in natural situations with staff and peers
- Prompting and guidance that is gradually reduced in order for the child to become more independent in completing the behavior
- Providing ongoing and immediate access to preferred items or actions upon the child engaging in new or improved communicative or social behaviors
- Development of new interests in play and social interaction that may serve as value to increase communication and social engagement
Behavior reduction strategies utilized within the program
- All behavior reduction interventions are based on the value (function) of the problem behavior or what the child accesses by engaging in the problem behavior
- All behavior reduction interventions are designed to teach and increase a safer and/or more appropriate behavior to replace the problem behavior while allowing the child to continue to meet their needs
- Safety of the child will be the primary focus in treatment decision making and interventions to ensure safety will be a part of all plans
Each child undergoes assessment utilizing both observation and direct testing of skills. Tools such as the VB-MAPPⓒ or PEAK-RTSⓒ are utilized as guides for assessing skill areas. If problematic behavior is occurring a functional assessment also occurs to determine the function or why the behavior occurs. These assessments are all carried out by a Board-certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). The BCBA utilizes the assessments to determine which skills to target for instruction and how to intervene to replace problem behavior.
Treatment is individualized in two major areas. For skill acquisition, assessment identifies specific skills that would be beneficial to learn for each child. During 1:1 instruction these skills are taught. During paired or group instruction, the skills identified for each child will continue to be targeted. Children will not participate in group lessons that target skills outside of their needs. For problem behaviors, assessment identifies the function or why the problem behavior is occurring. Interventions to reduce the value of problem behavior are based on the function. In addition, a replacement behavior that meets the same need will also be taught. Thus, for both skill acquisition and reduction of problem behavior, treatment is based on each child’s needs.
The goal is to help each child gain the skills to be successful in social situations and increase their motivation to engage socially. However, we are mindful that social interaction can be scary or overwhelming for some children. Our goal is to gradually increase children into social situations while teaching skills that will allow them to be successful. If a child shows that they are not ready or that socialization is currently aversive, they will not be forced into group activities. Instead, we will continue to work to develop skills and associate social interaction with things the child likes. For example, we may have a staff person or another child in the program deliver access to preferred items without asking for a prolonged social encounter. In this manner, the child can begin to see the value of others without high levels of demand. As the child develops more skills, the staff will seek out more situations to include the child in social activities.
The treatment in the early intervention program consists of a mix of 1:1 instruction and social interaction opportunities. Both of these activities are based on the current skills and needs of each individual child. One on one instruction is designed to allow for direct teaching of skills and consists of both practice within paired down and natural settings. A goal for instruction is to create as many learning opportunities as possible as well as ensuring that skills learned transfer into real-life situations. Social interaction and group instruction will be based on the children’s skill sets, but the program emphasizes these activities when the children are ready. Overall, each day is designed to include as much instruction and social interaction as the child can be successful with.
There are many different behaviors that can be taught within the program, but these areas of skill development are focused on.
- Communication – requesting or asking for items/actions, labeling or commenting on things or events in the environment, answering questions or making statements related to other’s communication
- Following directions – completing tasks or engaging in activities for the purpose of learning or engaging with others
- Social interaction – responding to other’s request to interact, playing with common toys/items or engaging in common activities, sharing access to toys/items, following the lead of others in play as well as leading play and activities
- Tolerating limits to preferred items or actions – accepting when access is limited or no access is available, accepting when they have to wait for access to a preferred item or action
Applied behavior analysis or ABA is the scientific study of how individuals learn to engage in different behaviors and why they continue these behaviors. When speaking of behaviors, we mean both behaviors that are valuable to engage in such as communicating and behaviors that are problematic such as tantrumming. ABA research has developed an understanding of the basic principles behind how behavior is learned as well as effective interventions to teach new behaviors. The early intervention program is based on ABA because it has been shown to be the most effective way to teach behaviors that improve quality of life.