What you’ll find at ABLE Academy
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A Highly qualified and compassionate staff
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Innovative Programming based on the
needs of each learner
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Precise application of research-supported
methods in the field of behavior analysis
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Ongoing parent/caregiver training
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A continuum of care that includes the family and supports the learner in all natural environments
Verbal Behavior & Errorless Instruction
Verbal behavior comes in many forms. It can be written, spoken, or signed. Every individual has verbal behavior whether they “talk” or not. Verbal behavior includes behavior other than the spoken word. We live in the midst of words, so it’s difficult to think about words as behavior, but they are in fact the most complex human behavior, that which separates us from other species. Words give us a very efficient way to influence the behavior of others. We use our words to influence others.
Verbal behavior involves social interaction between a speaker and a listener, and includes both vocal and non-vocal behavior. It analyzes the variables that control different types of verbal responses. Most traditional language approaches differentiate between receptive (listener skills) and expressive (vocal) language. B.F. Skinner’s functional analysis of verbal behavior further analyzes vocal behavior according to its function.
Requesting, labeling, and talking about things in the absence of those things are all components of “expressive language.” Focusing on the reasons we say words rather than the form of the response allows us to more effectively teach functional language skills.
Learners with developmental and/or language disorders may label many objects or pictures of objects in their environment but may not be able to request the same object or talk about the object with related terms (i.e. “Look it’s flying,” while pointing to an airplane.) Conversational skills are very difficult to acquire for individuals with developmental disabilities and language delays because typical conversations are functionally comprised primarily of requests for information and responses that are not related to things directly visible in the environment. In addition to the basic applied behavior analysis procedures, a child’s existing verbal behavior and the barriers that are preventing it from developing at a typical rate are assessed and teaching strategies proven to be effective are implemented.
Errorless teaching encompasses a set of instructional strategies that ensure children respond correctly when learning a new skill. Learners are provided with the direction (the cue) and are immediately given the correct response or help to perform the correct response (prompt). Immediate prompting reduces the likelihood of errors. With many other teaching procedures such as massed trials with error correction procedures, opportunities for initial mistakes are permitted and then corrected through a series of instructor responses (e.g., “no,” “try again,” social disapproval.) Those methods are not employed at ABLE Academy.
Errorless learning employs procedures that ensure correct responding when the skill is first introduced. Prompts are then systematically removed from the teaching trial and distracters are introduced so the learner can continue correct responding given multiple conditions.
The basis of errorless teaching is that learners with disorders of communication, socialization and/or learning do not learn as successfully from their mistakes as other children may, but instead continue to repeat them. Research suggests that learner frustration following lengthy correction procedures and social disapproval can actually provoke problem behavior such as tantrums, refusal, aggression and self-injury. Over time, trial and error teaching also damages the relationship between the instructor and the learner, reducing the learner’s willingness to approach new learning situations. This actually results in a declining rate of skill acquisition, which is in direct opposition to the opportunities for skill development afforded by effective ABA.
1:1 ABA intervention provides each learner with an intensive individualized ABA program. Areas including communication, language development, academic skills and behavior acquisition and the reduction of problem behaviors are addressed. All 1:1 ABA intervention programs are directed by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.
Behavior Analysis is the science of behavior. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the process of systematically applying interventions based upon principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree (Baer, Wolf & Risley, 1968; Sulzer-Azaroff, Mayer, 1991).
The procedures used in ABA are scientifically validated in hundreds of peer-reviewed research articles dating back to the 1960’s. ABA is used across a wide variety of areas including developmental disabilities, learning and behavior disorders, gerontology, organizational performance management, animal and pet training, brain injuries, behavioral medicine, and behavior toxicology. Applied Behavior Analysis is utilized in staff management in most Fortune 500 companies.
When children learn skills exclusively in isolation, they are less likely to generalize those skills to various items and across environments. From the onset of instruction at ABLE Academy, each skill acquisition program is designed with generalization in mind. Children learn multiple examples of the same concept and are required to demonstrate skill competency across instructors and environments within the clinic facility. This is achieved through ABLE Academy’s Three-Tiered Approach to Skill Building. Generalization, or the transferring of behavior form one situation to another (e.g. from communication with caregivers in the home to interacting with classmates at school), takes precedence using this exclusive method. Each learner’s program includes highly individualized and precise teaching procedures across the following tiers of instruction:
Instructor to learner ratio 1:1. Tier One instruction allows for intensive instruction through errorless teaching in order for the child to acquire new skills.
Instructor to learner ratio 1:2-1:6. Tier Two offers strongly facilitated, small group instruction during which the child demonstrates skills previously acquired in Tier One. In Tier Two, the intensive instruction methodology utilized in Tier One is maintained, but new instructors and peers are introduced.
Instructor to learner ratio 1:2-1:6. Tier Three offers therapist designed, but child led naturalistic teaching opportunities in which the child demonstrates acquired skills with limited or no direct instruction. Tier Three encourages development of interactive peer structures in which skills can be demonstrated in their most meaningful application.
Clinical Classroom/State Approved Full-Time School Day Program
The goal of Applied Behavior Analysis is to bring behaviors under the control of carefully selected stimuli such that a learner can display targeted behaviors across instructors and environments. This is demonstrated by our exclusive three tier method of skill acquisition, in addition to employing effective teaching strategies and probing current skills listed as mastered.
The Clinical Classroom model offers learners the opportunity to experience intensive language, academic, social and self-help skills training in a unique classroom setting that affords each learner both 1:1 and small group opportunities. Individual learner objectives and targeted skills are instructed and integrated during every activity. Opportunities are presented for immediate practice of newly acquired skills with peers in a carefully designed educational setting, supporting your child to apply skills learned in a 1:1 fashion in small groups. Because research demonstrates that people learn best when they are motivated, the teaching procedures employed offer high rates of reinforcement and materials are carefully selected to increase the motivation of each learner to acquire new skills.
All individual learner programs and intensive learning activities are designed and implemented by Board Certified Behavior Analysts, Applied Behavior Clinicians, Certified Teachers and individuals with extensive training in ABA, education, psychology and/or counseling. Data is maintained on specific skill behaviors each day; parents receive daily reports to indicate their child’s performance in each of the learning zones as well as quarterly progress reports.
The clinical classroom model is a Florida state approved private school program accepting the John McKay Scholarship for qualifying students residing in Florida.
Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2)
ADOS is the "gold standard" for assessing and diagnosing autism and pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) across ages, developmental levels, and language skills. This semi-structured assessment can be used to evaluate almost anyone suspected of having autism--from toddlers to adults, from children with no speech to adults who are vocally fluent.
Language and Learning Assessments
Functional skills assessments are chosen based upon the individual needs of the learner. Data collected during the assessment are used to create an individualized treatment plan and serve as a baseline measure that is used to track progress. Assessments frequently used include the Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills Revised (ABLLS-R), the Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP) and the Essential for Living (EFL).
Functional Behavior Assessment of Problem Behavior
Functional behavior assessments of problem behavior are conducted when the goal of a program is to decrease problematic behavior. Observation in multiple environments, caregiver interviews, and direct interaction are used to help determine the variables that effect problem behavior. A treatment plan is developed based on the results and training is provided to caregivers and staff who interact with the learner.
Creating Lasting Affective Social Skills (Group Therapy)
Small group after-school therapy designed to increase social, executive functioning and behavioral skills necessary for successfully participating in large group settings while learning to build and maintain valuable friendships. The carefully arranged group setting allows students to interact with one another and practice appropriate social skills with adults and peers.
Parent, Teacher and Caregiver Trainings
Individualized trainings regarding the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), with hands-on opportunities customized to the needs of the targeted child are offered to parents, caregivers, teachers, and family members. Ongoing trainings are offered in a variety of formats.
The Specialized Therapeutic Analysis Resources (STAR) Initiative
The Specialized Therapeutic Analysis Resources (STAR) Initiative provides behavior analytic training in local participating childcare centers to increase appropriate behaviors, language, and academic skills of children who present "at risk" either through demonstration of aberrant behaviors or skill deficits. Individual child assessments and intervention plans are developed when needed. Additionally, identified children receive assessment, support, advocacy and navigation through the process of obtaining an appropriate diagnosis and/or accessing needed medical, psychiatric and/or mental health services. Participating childcare center staff training is provided to address issues related to individual child intervention plans and global strategies for classroom management. Parent and family training, support and advocacy is also provided when needed, typically leading to emergency assistance services and pathways to diagnosis and additional treatment. Additionally, support is provided to childcare center directors for overall training and progression plans. Through the newest addition to the STAR initiative, each participating childcare center selects one to two staff members who receive intensive training and support by the STAR BCBA to obtain certification as a Nationally Registered Behavior Technician through the Behavior Analysis Certification Board.