The Four Fundamental Mistakes in ABA

The Four Fundamental Mistakes to Watch for in ABA Therapy
(in order of importance, #1 being most important)

1) Not reinforcing a behavior

Reinforcement increases a behavior. It's not simply a reward we think a child will like. If the behavior doesn't increase, adequate reinforcement wasn't present. One of the reasons a reward we think a child will like doesn't serve as reinforcement is because it gets overused. A child can only be tickled, spun around, or given a piece of cookie so many times. Reinforcement must be continually varied.

2) Allowing a child to be non-responsive

When questions or instructions are repeated over and over, a child learns, "I don't have to answer the first time. I can sit here and do nothing while you continue to repeat the question or give me a direction."

3) Not prompting frequently enough

A child should remain successful at least 80% of the time. Note that non-response is also considered an unsuccessful response. People must ask themselves, "Am I 80-100% certain the child can respond correctly on his own?" If not, enough help should be given so that the child does respond correctly.

4) Prompting too much

Ironically, it's also important to remember to fade prompts when a child is successful. This doesn't necessarily mean a prompt has to be completely removed immediately. There are limitless ways to gradually fade prompts so that less and less help is given while a child remains successful. Note that NOT prompting frequently is a bigger mistake to watch out for than prompting too much.