Behavioural interventions are grounded heavily in learning theory, built on the premise that most human behaviour is learned through the interaction between an individual and their environment.
Behavioural interventions aim to teach and increase useful behaviours and reduce or eliminate harmful behaviours or those that interfere with learning.
Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) and Discrete Trial Training (DTT) are generally the core features of most behavioural intervention programs.
ABA is the term generally used for programs which teach according to the principles of BF Skinner’s theory of operant conditioning. In a nutshell, this means that children will do more of the things they find rewarding and less of the things that have negative or neutral consequences.
ABA and DTT can be used to:
teach play, academics, social skills, communication and daily living skills
encourage desirable behaviours, such as paying attention to the teacher and completing set tasks
reduce undesirable behaviours, such as self-injury or ‘stims’
generalise desired behaviours to different settings (home, school etc).
Things the child needs to learn — like saying words, learning non-verbal gestures, playing with toys and then peers, washing hands, eating etc — are broken down into tiny steps and then taught systematically, little by little.