Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Monday, March 17, 2014

ABA you saved me...

Until our lecture on applied behavioural analysis, I was absolutely clueless as to what I wanted to do when I was older! (except working in a zoo...obviously the best job ever!).
I knew that I wanted to work with children like I currently do, but had no intention of becoming a teacher to face 30 screaming lunatics every day!
I have always absolutely loved the challenge of tutoring the children with SEN at work, and it was during our ABA lecture with Nic that I knew I had found my dream job...to go onto a career with helping change the behavioural patterns of children with learning impairments.

ABA has been shown to improve both adaptive and problem behaviour (Whitman, Sciback, & Reid, 1983). I believe that with ABA, I could improve a child’s communication and social skills by rewarding behaviours that are effective forms of interaction, or if longer clauses are said! As children with conditions such as autism tend to fixate on certain objects, I could use this to my advantage whilst teaching behaviours, by rewarding them with this object e.g. an aeroplane, or could even try and guide the desired behaviour by making the work that object focused e.g. turning 2 + 2 into counting the aeroplanes, or learning geography by flying an aeroplane to each location on a map! Positive reinforcement has been shown in the past to increase the probability of seeing desired behaviour (Fuller, 1949).

Not only would I do this, but I would also use a method called chaining, in which sequences of behaviour are created to form a larger function e.g. cooking. These sequences are taught through prompting techniques like positive reinforcement, which are then faded out as the child progresses onto further stages of the sequence, until the whole function is able to be completed as one single behaviour (Foxx, 1977). I would use this method, as it has been shown in the past to be successful in a variety of scenarios from cooking (Schleien, Ash, Kiernan, & Wehman, 1981), to learning appropriate play skills (Libby, Weiss, Bancroft, & Ahearn, 2008).



Foxx, R. (1977). Attention training: The use of overcorrection avoidance to increase the eye contact of autistic and retarded children. Journal of applied behaviour analysis, 10, 489-499.

Fuller, P. (1949). Operant conditioning of a vegetative human organism. American Journal of Psychology, 62, 587-590.

Libby, M., Weiss, J., Bancroft, S., & Ahearn, W. (2008). A comparison of most-to-least and least-to-most prompting on the acquisition of solitary play skills. Behaviour analysis in practice, 1, 37-43.

Schleien, S., Ash, T., Kiernan, J., & Wehman, P. (1981). Developing independent cooking skills in a profoundly retarded woman. Journal of the association for the severely handicapped, 6, 23-29.

Whitman, T., Sciback, J., & Reid, D. (1983). Behaviour modification with the severely and profoundly retarded: Research & Application. New York, NY: Academic Press.


Grace Pattison

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