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Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

ABA Therapy

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a process in which interventions are used in order to produce positive and meaningful changes in behavior. The interventions are implemented systematically, and the ABA process includes providing evidence that the interventions being used are responsible for the behavioral change. It is important that the interventions lead to changes in behavior that are immediate and produce long lasting benefits.

Applied behavior analysis involves using behavioral principles in everyday life situations in order to eventually increase or decrease a specific behavior.










My child currently receives ABA therapy in a private clinic or through a private program established at home. Does Martin’s Mill ISD provide ABA therapy?


Martin’s Mill ISD uses interventions and applies common principles of ABA in the school setting to effectively plan for and implement strategies needed for students to make progress on goals and objectives. Many of these interventions and principles are the same or similar to those used in private therapy; however, the structure and implementation may look different than in a clinical setting or through a home based ABA program.

In addition, some of the terms used in the clinical setting may be different than those used in an educational setting, but they often describe the same intervention or procedure. The school setting tends to use language that is more natural in order to support the goal of generalization and for students to respond to everyday language.


What are common principles of Applied Behavior Analysis?

There are basic principles embedded in the strategy or process of ABA that are present in almost all programs, both in the clinical and school setting. Some of the principles of ABA that are used in the schools include but are not limited to reinforcement, data collection, prompting, natural teaching opportunities, function of behavior, direct teaching, and functional communication strategies. These support both behavior and language development.




What is Discrete Trial Teaching?

Discrete trial teaching is one intervention based on the principles of ABA. Discrete trial teaching is often done on a one-on-one basis with detailed planning of requests, timing, wording, and response to the student’s behavior. Discrete trial teaching is one method of instruction that may be used with a student if appropriate for the skill(s) needing to be taught.




What are the benefits of using principles of Applied Behavior Analysis in the school setting?


By utilizing the principles of ABA, teams are able to address behaviors that impede the learning of the student or others while at the same time being exposed to their general education peers as much as is appropriate. Additionally, students learn the skills they need in a typical school setting environment versus learning skills in isolation. They are able to generalize skills in the school setting in areas including but not limited to academic, social, self-help, communication and vocational skills. More spontaneous and natural opportunities to work on generalization occur in the school setting.




When my child receives Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy at the clinic, he has a 1:1 person who helps him. Will my child have 1:1 at school?


A student will either have a teacher or teaching assistant providing support to the student.

The level of support a student receives throughout the day depends on the present levels of performance, goals and objectives and needs of an individual student. In order to educate students in the least restrictive environment, a student must receive the right amount of support to help them progress but not so much support that they are not allowed opportunities to demonstrate independence. The Admission, Review and Dismissal Committee (ARDC) will determine appropriate levels of support. This support can vary depending on the activity, the student’s health and safety, or other factors. The goal of students in the educational setting is independence; so, supports should be faded as much as possible.


If my child does require 1:1 assistance, will the same staff member be with my child all day?


It is very unlikely that one staff member will be with the same child during the entire day. Research has shown that students who have the same staff member with them all day long can develop an over-reliance on that particular adult and may have difficulty working with others. Along with independence, generalization of skills to a variety of people is very important.




I really like my Applied Behavioral Analysis private therapist/aide/shadow who works with my child. May that person work with my child at school either at district expense or can I pay for them to come?


All special education staff that provide services that are identified in the IEP must be employees or contract service providers of Martin’s Mill ISD. There are legal requirements for people working in the public school settings, so it is imperative Martin’s Mill ISD have employment responsibilities for these people. For that reason, a private therapist cannot be the service provider in the school setting. 

In addition, all services identified as needs in the IEP must be provided to parents as part of a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) as defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). For that reason, parents cannot pay for services for their child.


May my child’s Applied Behavioral Analysis therapist/aide/shadow come into the school to train your staff?


Martin’s Mill ISD values outside provider’s knowledge and expertise about students. Martin’s ISD is very open to collaborating with any outside providers to help build a solid school and home/clinic team. Any training must be at time that is convenient for school staff and in a format that is consistent with Martin’s Mill ISD policy and procedures. The school district is not responsible for any fees associated with a parent bringing in an outside provider training.




Does the District utilize Board Certified Behavior Analysts when implementing ABA principles?


Yes. The district has trained staff in the principles of ABA who work directly with teachers and parents to develop, implement, and monitor behavior strategies plans and behavior intervention plans. In the school setting, any employee with training can provide ABA services within the scope of the teacher’s or employee’s employment. 

The district does have the ability to use contracted BCBA services for additional support for an instructional team. This decision is discussed as part of the Admission, Review and Dismissal Process (ARD) in conjunction with special education administration.