While many attribute applied behavior analysis (ABA) as a treatment for autism and related disorders, ABA can be used in any context within the dimensions of the science of behavior. ABA’s goal is to research and intervene on problems of social significance. Many ways to achieve this goal can be found in everyday life, such as self-management procedures and organizational behavioral management.
I first learned about ABA and its principles while working in a center to treat children with severe behaviors. Most of my experiences at this center focused on developing interventions for children diagnosed with autism-spectrum disorder (ASD). While we focused heavily on the applications of ABA during their 1-2 hour sessions at the center, ABA was a big part of both the child and the families’ everyday life outside of the center. ABA strategies are implemented throughout the day to promote generalization and effectiveness from our work at the center in many types of settings. The parents of these children used the applications and strategies of ABA to intervene on problem behavior that was socially significant in their lives. For these children, the applications of ABA did not cease once they left our center. ABA was engrained in their everyday life as a way to improve behavior and quality of life.
While the applications of ABA are well known in treating ASD, many may not know that the same procedures can be used in everyday life to improve behavior. I have realized that ABA is involved in everything we do throughout the day. I have utilized the applications of ABA in my everyday life to improve behaviors such as time management skills and increasing my exercise habits. Finding a strong reinforcer as well as setting goals for myself has been very helpful in improving my everyday life. I have also utilized the applications of ABA in my everyday life to reduce bad habits in my behavioral repertoire, such as nail biting and playing with my hair. These changes in my behavior are small, but they have helped improve my daily life. Applications of ABA can be used in self-management procedures to monitor one’s own behavior and change unwanted habits or routines. Some practical applications of ABA can be seen throughout everyone’s normal routines, such as using an auditory stimulus as an alarm clock in the morning, manding for a preferred item, reinforcing good behavior, or using prompts. These simple but important applications are found in almost everyone’s everyday life.
Recently, I have used the application of ABA in my everyday life to change my 2 cat’s behavior. I have acquired a new couch for my living room, which is very tempting for my cats to scratch on. I attempted to train my cats to not scratch on the new couch by replacing that behavior with an alternative option—new scratching posts throughout my apartment. When I caught my cats scratching on the scratching posts, I reinforced this behavior by giving them verbal praise, pets, and a treat. While I am not in my apartment at all times throughout the day, I have seen a decrease in scratching behavior on my new couch. This simple and practical implication of ABA techniques is another way that someone can incorporate ABA in their everyday lives.
Another important application of ABA is in organizational behavioral management (OBM). While I have not had much experience with OBM, it is a great way to utilize the strategies of ABA to improve organizational management, staff performance and staff satisfaction. OBM focuses on manipulating the antecedents and consequences of staff behavior to increase staff performance. This practical application of ABA is very successful in improving staff performance and satisfaction in the workplace.
All in all, the procedures of ABA are engrained in everyday life in order to improve behavior of another or oneself. These procedures can take many forms and be used in many different ways in order to achieve similar goals in a variety of situations across everyday life.
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