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5 Recent Developments in Applied Behavior Analysis

Recent Changes Enhancing Applied Behavior Analysis

• Advances in data collection/sharing

• Advances in diagnostic methods bringing early detection

• The addition of Applied Behavior Analysis into teaching curriculums

• The increasing factor of functional assessment

• The development of effective behavior intervention plans

When psychology became a science back in the 19th century, it came in a basic form, grew, explored its boundaries, and then formed limbs of specialties of which Applied Behavior Analysis was one. Since then, this important branch of psychology has accelerated decade by decade to become an essential part of our social structure. Recent changes have continued that trend.

Related resource: Top 15 Best Online Applied Behavior Analysis Programs

Advances in Data Collection/Sharing

For many decades, data collection in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis was a closely guarded secret. Today, the advent of computerization and the creation of hand-held audio/visual recording devices allow professionals to observe from afar. Parents record adverse behaviors, send them directly to the professional, who may or may not share the video stream with cohorts to develop an individual plan for the individual patient. The rapid collection of patterns results in vast stores of evidence that the professional sifts through finds a general trend and begins applying possible solutions.

Advances in Diagnostic Methods Bringing Early Detection

During the last two decades, the detection and monitoring of behavioral issues have developed into a science. Medical practitioners are well versed in the symptoms involved with Autism System Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), depression, and any number of other behavior disorders. Certification in the field is a leap forward with practitioners certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board which regulates the standards necessary for quick observance and diagnosis of behavior disorders.

The Addition of Applied Behavior Analysis into Teaching Curriculums

After the turn of the 21st Century, professionals came to realize that observations from the medical field were not enough to detect and diagnose any significant amounts of aberrant behaviors. Teacher education curriculums evolved to include the identification of behavior issues. The effort contributed new statistics to the point that, according to EurekAlert: The Global Source for Science News, government costs would expand to over $500 billion in ten years. The result is the push that brings more trained personnel to deal with the issues at the local level.

The Increasing Factor of Functional Assessment

In 1968, Baer, Wolf, and Risley published an article in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis that quickly became the mainstay of the science. The team recommended the use of aversion interventions. With aversion intervention comes the use of stimuli to encourage the adverse behavior and a counter-stimulus to discourage the behavior. Thus, the patient learns to avoid the behavior through reaction to adverse stimuli. During the last decade, behaviorists have moved away from aversion therapy to functional assessment where the patient learns to reason through the behavior.

The Development of Effective Behavior Intervention Plans

With the advent of improved data collection techniques and the inclusion of medical and teaching personnel in the effort, the strategy of developing general plans of action to handle challenging behavior has stopped. The current trend is to observe the adverse behavior of each patient as an individual phenomenon and create a plan of action for that patient alone. These plans operate off the observations of local personnel and are produced by Certified Applied Behavior Analysts as instructional templates to handle individual cases. The understanding that all behavior issues are not the same and that each patient has a different solution is an essential step toward the justification of intervention.

Through data collection and sharing, the detection and treatment of behavior issues is now a recognizable solution in most cases. The differences in mind and body between individuals is forefront in the analysis of behavior issues. The continued training of professionals, parents, and patients is gradually alleviating adverse social patterns that may lead to injury or worse. The acceleration of changes in methodology brings hope for those afflicted with behavior issues.