Services Offered

Search Our Site

Services OverviewAssessmentVerbal/Vocal BehaviorInterventionParent TrainingSchool Based Services

Overview of services offered

photoThe ABRITE Organization is devoted to providing individualized behavioral services to children and adolescences from 1 to 22 years of age. We utilize the principles and methods of ABA by analyzing the child’s specific needs and creating an individualized learning environment and program of instruction. We accomplish this goal by identifying the conditions under which each learner will reach their optimal potential. We then introduce methods to remediate the child’s deficits while also implementing protocols designed to decrease undesirable behaviors (e.g., tantrumming, aggression) that may interfere with the child’s learning. Each child’s progress is measured daily by the interventionists and monitored frequently by the supervising clinician, and therefore, poor or slow behavior change is recognized immediately and corrected.

The ABRITE team begins by directly assessing the learner and outlining goals based on deficits observed during the assessment. Intervention services are then implemented based on the goals. The focus of these services and the location the services are provided in are specific to the individual learner and his/her goals. Each learner also benefits from supervision and direction that is provided by our BCBAs. Every learner in ABRITE’s program also benefits from parent training that is provided to the caregivers.

 

Assessment

photo2We conduct 2 basic types of assessments: 1) assessments of undesirable behaviors and 2) developmental/skills assessments.

To assess undesirable behaviors, the Functional Behavior Inventory (FBI) and a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) are utilized. In addition, a more formal Functional Analysis (FA) can also be utilized based on the need of the individual learner. To assess a learner’s skills and identify any deficits, standardized developmental assessments such as The Battelle Developmental Inventory, the Adaptive Behavior Assessment System (ABAS), the Assessment of Functional Living Skills (AFLS) or the VB-Mapp are frequently employed tools. These assessments are used to formulate the most appropriate intervention and respective goals. A comprehensive list of available assessments utilized at ABRITE can also be provided as needed. Please see below for our most commonly used assessments and brief descriptions.

The assessment is a written report that includes the details/findings of the specific assessment tool used and the goals that were developed based on the assessment findings. In addition, the assessment includes a recommendation of service hours. Specifically, we recommend based on the current research and highlighted best practices that have demonstrated that children on the autism spectrum who receive applied behavior analysis (ABA) in their natural environment demonstrate the greatest level of improvement in their communication, social, adaptive, and cognitive skills (e.g., Howard, Sparkman, Cohen, Green, & Stanislaw, 2005).

Please see below for our commonly used assessments and brief descriptions.

  • Functional Behavioral Inventory (FBI) +

    This is an indirect assessment where caregivers are asked about problem behaviors of concern as well as their perceptions of the severity of the behaviors. The inventory also involves questions related to environmental events and settings associated with the behaviors.
  • Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) +

    A structured FBA will be conducted by assessing the setting, antecedents, and consequences for the consumer’s undesirable or target behavior. The antecedents and consequences in accordance with each target behavior will be examined in order to determine one of the following functions: a) social positive in the form of attention, b) social positive in the form of a tangible item/activity, c) social negative reinforcement function, or d) automatic or non-social reinforcement function. Information from the FBA or FAA is generally used to develop an individualized Positive Behavior Intervention Plan that outlines the procedures for systematically reducing targeted behavioral excesses and teaching functionally equivalent replacement behaviors.
  • Functional Analysis (FA) +

    A functional analysis is an experimental analysis of a target behavior under analogue conditions. This assessment is conducted to examine the function of the target behavior. The specific functions examined are: social positive, social negative, and automatic or non-social functions. This analysis is typically reserved for undesirable behavior that is not showing clear results via a functional behavioral assessment. In these cases, this assessment is necessary so that appropriate behavior protocols can be developed.
  • The Battelle Developmental Inventory-Revised (BDI-2) +

    The BDI-2 is a standardized, individualized administered assessment battery of key developmental skills in children between the ages of birth and 7 years. It is primarily used by early childhood interventionists in order to measure a child’s present levels of performance. The BDI-2 consists of 450 test items grouped into the following five domains: adaptive, personal-social, communication, motor, and cognitive.
  • Adaptive Behavior Assessment System (ABAS) +

    The ABAS serves as both a diagnostic instrument and norm-referenced assessment for children and adults birth to 89 years. This assessment will be used for the consumers referred for an assessment based on deficits in adaptive skills beyond 7 years of age. The ABAS is an assessment that encompasses measures to examine an individual’s adaptive and daily living skills. Specifically, this assessment is useful in examining the 10 different areas of adaptive skills, such as self-care, home and community living and health and safety, for example.
  • Assessment of Functional Living Skills (AFLS) +

    The Assessment of Functional Living Skills- Version 4 (AFLS) is an assessment developed by Partington and Mueller. This assessment accounts for over 730 different functional skills assessed across 24 different areas in the home and the community.
  • Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP) +

    The Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP) is a language and social skills assessment program developed by Dr. Mark Sundberg in 2008. This program was developed based on 30 years of research and development within the science of behavior analysis and it stems from Dr. Skinner’s landmark analysis of language. There are five components to the VB-MAPP, and one or all five of these components, can be used by a behavior analyst with extensive training on the verbal behavior approach to identify a baseline level of a child’s skills and to compare it to those of children demonstrating typical development.
  • 1

Verbal/Vocal Behavior

ABRITE takes a Skinnerian approach to the teaching of verbal/vocal behavior. An introduction to this approach is provided here.

Background

In his book entitled Verbal Behavior (1957) B.F. Skinner outlined the different types of things that we say and he called them ‘verbal operants’. This book is incredibly complex, however, a brief introduction will be provided here. Basically, previous accounts of verbal behavior focused on the topography or form of language (e.g., expressive or receptive language) while Skinner took a different approach by analyzing the function of the things we say, that is, the way in which the things we say effect the environment (i.e., listeners). For example, if one says “stop” a traditional account would assume that this is a request but according to Skinner whether this is a request (e.g., in a speeding car) or a label (e.g., reading a stop sign) depends on the environmental conditions.

Verbal Operants

The four types of verbal operants we target are called: a) Echoics, b) Mands, c) Tacts, and d) Intraverbals.

  • An echoic is a verbal operant that generate a sound pattern similar to that of the speaker. In simplistic sense, echoics are echoing what the speaker said.
  • A mand is a verbal operant that specifies its reinforcement. There are many different types of mands, but simply, manding is any requesting behavior.
  • A tact is a verbal operant in which a response of a given form is evoked by a particular object or event. Again, many types of tacts, but simply, a tact is any labeling behavior.
  • An intraverbal is a verbal operant that shows no point-to-point correspondence with the stimuli that produce it. This is a complex analysis but, for now think of it as filling in the blank types of responses or word associations.
VERBAL OPERANT ANTECEDENT CHILD'S RESPONSE
Echoic ECI instructs “Say Cookie” Child repeats “Cookie”
Mand Child is hungry. Child requests “Cookie”
Tact Child sees an illustration of a cookie in a book. Child says “Cookie”
Intraverbal ECI asks “What is your favorite dessert?” Child responds “Cookies”

The way by which we assess and teach each of these verbal operants is outlined in the Assessment of Language and Learning Skills (ABLLS) manual developed by Sundberg and Partington (1999). This approach is sometimes referred to as the Verbal Behavior Approach.

Intervention

Each learner will experience intervention sessions in his or her natural environment. During intervention sessions, the behavior interventionist (BI) works from the learner’s skill book and targets the included developmentally appropriate curriculum. The BI implements teaching procedures with empirical support from the ABA research literature and takes data on the child’s performance for later analysis.

All learners are taught using a mix of the following teaching procedures:

  • Natural Environment Teaching +

    Natural Environment Teaching (NET) is a group of teaching methods that share a common feature. The common feature of all naturalistic teaching strategies is they are child led and the BI follows the child’s lead while implementing a procedure to target a particular skill. Some common NET teaching procedures that are utilized at ABRITE are pivotal response training (PRT), constant and graduated time delay procedures, and incidental teaching. NET uses child-initiated choices of activities in an attempt to motivate the child with naturally occurring activities. Although to an untrained observer, NET may appear to be loosely structured play, in reality, it is a systematic protocol of instruction that is provided in the context of natural environments. Therefore, the format appears closer to that of playing. These strategies are employed in the context of play or naturally occurring events (e.g., snack time) rather than other more contrived contexts. These strategies are considered child led in that the child selects the target response (e.g., cookie vs. open), yet the BI creates the environment that makes skill acquisition more likely.
  • Discrete Trial Instruction +

    Discrete trial teaching is an instructor led teaching strategy that we also employ. This procedure takes into account the following: the motivational variables, the antecedent, the behavior or the response, and the consequence, all occurring within a particular setting, as depicted below.

    During discrete trial teaching (DTT), all of these variables are taken into account and arranged to ensure learning by the child. Essentially, discrete trials are based on systematic, repeated instruction, and reliable and consistent consequences for correct and incorrect responding. In addition, the setting is controlled and systematically altered and motivational variables are captured or if need be, contrived. The following depicts discrete trial teaching.IMAGEDiscrete trial instruction is a systematic teaching procedure that is utilized to teach skill that might be difficult for the learner. With DTT, learning of a skill occurs in small steps. A complete skill (i.e., composite skill) may be broken down into several smaller tasks. Each small task (i.e., component skill) is taught one at a time until the child demonstrates mastery of the complete skill (i.e., component skill). In addition, simple skills are taught to mastery before more complex skills are introduced. These teaching techniques help to ensure the learner’s success and maximize opportunities for reinforcement. Discrete trial teaching can be used to teach basic skills such as attending, as well as very complex verbal and social behaviors such as conversation. Intervention begins with teaching learning readiness skills such as sitting in a chair and attending, and decreasing behaviors that interfere with learning, such as noncompliance, tantrums and aggression. An analysis of generalization (i.e., responding across settings, people, and varied instructions) occurs during all phases of instruction.

  • Shaping +

    Another behavior analytic procedure that will be employed is called shaping. Shaping is the reinforcement of successive approximations of behavior to a final, appropriate behavior. Consider a child who is aggressive or non-compliant when presented with a non-preferred food item. In a shaping procedure, a terminal response is selected and defined. For this example, we will use calm eating of the non-preferred food item. It may not be feasible or reasonable to expect the child to eat a plateful of lima beans at the beginning of treatment. The child is not required to perform the target behavior perfectly on the first attempt. A first approximation may be staying calm for a period of time in the presence of the non-preferred food item. Here the child receives a preferred item or activity for achieving the goal. Once the child can successfully stay calm in the presence of the food item, the criterion is changed. For example, now staying calm while a tutor places a piece of the food item on a spoon is reinforced. Again, when the child is successful with this criterion, the criterion is changed to a closer approximation of the target until the target is achieved.
  • Chaining +

    Chaining is another behavior analytic procedure that we utilize. This is a procedure that is used when a behavior consists of many steps (e.g., brushing your teeth, washing your face, tying your shoes, playing a game, etc.). It involves breaking tasks down into easier-to-learn steps so the child is more successful and the task is learned more systematically. The different types of chaining procedures are used to teach multi-step skills and in particular adaptive skills.
  • Functional Communication Training (FCT) and Augmentative Communication +

    Functional communication training (FCT) refers to systematic targeting of appropriate communication so as to decrease inappropriate behaviors that are serving as the learner’s means of communication. For example, the learner cries every time a toy is taken away. Once the learner cries, the toy is returned. Functional communication training (FCT) in this circumstance would be teaching the learner to say “my turn” or “I want toy” instead of allowing crying to serve as a request for the parent returning the toy. Although vocal behavior is the preferred mode of communication, augmentative communication systems may be necessary for some learners who are struggling to communicate vocally. In this situation, a language assessment will be conducted and an alternative form of communication will be taught. Some alternative communication systems that would be considered are a Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), sign language or assistive technology (e.g. iPad). We utilize a combination of these teaching procedures to target the learner’s intervention goals. The intervention sessions occur in the natural environment and sessions begin in one location and then move to various locations based on the learner’s success. In addition, there are different types of intervention sessions based on the learner’s goals. Some types of sessions that are possible are sessions in the home environment, sessions in the community, sessions with a peer, sessions with a sibling and/or sessions with a caregiver.
  • 1

Parent Training

Parent training is provided to assist all parents in furthering their child’s development while decreasing behaviors that may interfere with their child’s learning, as well as improving the overall parent-child dyad interaction. The type of content targeted in parent training and the frequency of this training is based on the caregiver goals. All data suggest that the more a parent participates in their child’s intervention, the more gains that are achieved. Therefore, we are committed to parent training for each and every learner we work with!

School Based Services

ABRITE has been an authorized Non-Public Agency (NPA) through the California Dept. of Education since 2008. Since this time, ABRITE has been providing behavioral services for school districts that range from the creation of defensive classrooms, teacher training, consultations with leadership and services for individual learners (e.g., assessment and/or intervention). The following will provide detail regarding the different types of services that we provide.

In order to assist each learner with their goals, as outlined by their IEP team, ABRITE provides 1:1 BII instruction to individual students with the focus of building replacement behaviors as a means of decreasing undesirable behaviors that are competing with a child’s learning. In addition to individualized instruction (BII), ABRITE also has a team of board certified behavior analysts (BCBAs) to provide functional behavioral assessments (FBAs) and to supervise the implementation of behavior intervention services (BID services).

In addition, ABRITE directors created some additional services throughout our work with local school districts. These services were behavioral consultation at the level of the classroom, rather than the individual services associated with the BII and BID distinctions. Some specifics tasks include all meetings with the Director of Special Education Services in relation to the overall program of instruction and changes in the program design. This overall service involves working with the special education directors on the creation of classrooms that are in line with the empirical research literature.