When asked why applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the most effective treatment for autism, Don Baer replied, ABA is the discipline that has most consistently considered the problem of what behavior changes, made in what order and by what techniques, will confer the maximal benefit to the child. ABA’s most scientifically documented outcomes of maximal benefit to children with autism have been achieved via early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) in home and clinic settings with children under age 6. While some children who have received EIBI make a smooth transition to public school classrooms, many others struggle mightily with the demands of a new and highly complex environment. ABA has yet to answer fully the question: What behavior changes produced by what techniques will accrue maximal success for students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in regular classrooms? A group of teachers, clinicians, researchers, and parents-all with extensive experience in ASD-were asked to identify the 3-4 most important (a) skills needed by students with ASD for success in general education classrooms, (b) instructional tactics teachers must know how to use to help students with ASD succeed in general education classrooms, and (c) things a behavior analyst should do or know to help teachers help students with ASD. The group’s responses revealed a remarkably similar set of behavior change targets (e.g., complete tasks without teacher prompts, interact appropriately with peers), instructional techniques for achieving those behavior changes (e.g., teach self-management, use collaborative learning activities), and suggestions for behavior analysts working in schools (e.g., simplify data collection, respect teachers’ expertise and experience). This presentation will rely heavily on the collective wisdom and perspectives of this group of autism experts.
Review William L. Heward’s biographical statement.