Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Autism, Worship, and Applied Behavior Analysis

I'm not a trained applied behavior analyst (ABA).  I've taken a couple classes in my special ed training, but most of what I've learned has come in the trenches learning alongside my own daughter and serving in special education classrooms.
Most PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention Supports) programs in educational settings will use some form of ABCD to help figure out what's going on.
  • Antecedent (The Trigger)
  • Behavior (The Meltdown)
  • Consequence (The Result)
  • De-escalation (Moving on)
I've learned that a lot of behavioral actions are attempts at communicating.  My daughter growls at me the third time she has to restate what she is saying.  It's not her fault I can't understand her!

On the other hand, she does know the moral difference between right and wrong. Sticking her tongue out at her parents or sibling is a family no-no.  The first couple times warnings are given, but then short timeouts may ensue.  As teachers and family members get to know our children, they can easily tell which one is which.

The hardest one for me to wrap my head around was that consequence is not necessarily any discipline enacted towards her, but any action or inaction following the behavior.  Did the student receive what she wanted. Did she want attention?  Did she want to be ignored?  Did she successfully get out of testing time?

Learning to place our emphasis on avoiding triggers is key to achieving our desired goals and results.

Recently I stumbled across this blog post on Autism and Worship by a trained ABA professional in Georgia.  I like what it says, so I'm posting a link here.  Here are the six main points!

1) Be flexible about where & when you worship.
2) Are their simple modifications that may help your child?
3) Take a helper or buddy with you.
4) Prepare your child in advance. (Social Stories work wonders!)
5) Raise awareness at your church.
6) Church should be a fun experience.