Exploring children's learning
Exploring children's learning

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Exploring children's learning

2.5 Application: applied behavioural analysis

Applied behavioural analysis (ABA) is a method of teaching that involves breaking tasks into small, discrete ‘teachable’ steps. At each step appropriate behaviours are reinforced. ABA selects developmentally appropriate behaviours as teaching targets. These can range from maintaining eye contact to complex responses such as social interaction. The child is given enough support to ensure success, which is then positively reinforced by consequences that are reinforcing for that child. Gradually the amount of support and reinforcement is reduced.

Early intervention programmes for children with learning difficulties have the potential to produce positive changes in development and consequently reduce the need for later interventions. Therefore in many ABA programmes parents are trained to become the primary therapists and their children receive one-to-one tuition in their own homes. There is evidence that intervening in a child's development in this way can help children with autism to be more successful in mainstream schools (Keenan et al., 2000). However, such schemes have proved difficult to foster widely because of the association with behaviourist approaches and the negative connotations associated with such ideas (Keenan, 2004). It is important to make a distinction between behaviourism as it was originally conceived, and its contemporary manifestation in behavioural analysis, which does not ignore cognitive processes during learning.

Activity 2 Reading A

At this point you should read Reading A, ‘Applied behavioural analysis and autism’ by Keenan (2004). He is an advocate of ABA as a means of helping the development of children with autistic spectrum disorders.

Reading A (PDF, 4 pages, 0.2MB)

View document [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

ED209_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has nearly 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus