Fast & Furious ABA



"In reality, there is no single Lovaas model because the work done at UCLA was dynamic, creative, and ever-changing"

"1:1 was certainly critical. It was the starting point of treatment. But as soon as possible we wanted children to be able to learn in small and then large groups"

"You have to experiment and look at your results. When something works, you stay with it; when you try something that doesn't work, you drop it"

"Ivar did not believe in protocols. He wanted us to probe and of course evaluate if what we were doing was effective"

"We needed to be flexible. And we needed to be critical thinkers"

Quotes are from "The Lovaas Model: Love it or Hate it, But first Understand It" (Ch. 2)



Quality, effective, and authentic ABA treatment will be dynamic and ever- evolving. If it isn't, then that's not ABA.

Pretty simple.



*Quality treatment should be individual focused. This means that programming/goals are functional for the person receiving treatment. Is it critical at this time that your 4 year old client learn to label a photo of a giraffe? No? Then why are you teaching it?

*Quality treatment requires the active involvement and engagement of the parents or caregivers. Otherwise, who is all this for?? If your client can mand, wait appropriately, transition, and answer simple questions for you but can't do any of that with a parent, then what was the point of that?

*Quality treatment puts a high value on staff training (as in: both initial AND ongoing training and supervision). When staff are not properly trained in conceptual ABA theory, as well as real-life application, that will absolutely impact the quality of treatment. While you're training, don't forget that critical thinking must often be taught as well. For example, "Always follow THIS protocol, except for when ______", or "Follow the child's motivation by doing ________", or "When in doubt, be sure to avoid ________". Create training scenarios where the staff must fill-in-the-blank of those types of critical thinking questions.

*Quality treatment uses assessment tools to guide and help conceptualize treatment planning, and not as a paint by number manual that must be followed grid by grid for every single client.

*Quality treatment is not a slave to any specific "way" of delivering intervention. You could absolutely love discrete trial, or incidental teaching, but if the method is not effective for a particular client then guess which one needs to change? (It's the method....not the client)

*Quality treatment understands and supports the need for a high level of clinical supervision and oversight. Regardless of the amount of supervision the funding source will approve, ask for the amount of hours needed to ethically oversee a case. If you cannot effectively provide supervision under the constraints set forth by the funding source, then do not accept the case.



My best (and often my favorite) kind of sessions are the ones that probably look highly chaotic. Lots of impromptu suggestions, changing data sheets on the spur of the moment, jumping between training the staff and the parent, and on the spot functional analysis of behavior. These sessions may look chaotic, but the end result is treatment gold: Specific and intentional treatment improvements that will help the client learn more effectively, across both the ABA team and the parents.

Contrast that with some seriously poor examples I've observed of dead, boring sessions, where the staff is glued in one spot for 2 hours, never deviates from the data sheet (even as scores begin to plummet), the client is disinterested and disengaged, and the parents are nowhere to be seen.


Quality treatment must be dynamic (lively, changing, energetic) both by design and in its application. This should be the goal of any quality ABA provider.
Think more of cars rapidly racing around a track, making minute -by -minute performance decisions and adjustments, and less of sitting on a motionless lake with a pole in the water, waiting for fish to come to you.




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