What are the Seven Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis?
The seven dimensions of ABA are important to consider when implementing behavior change procedures. One way to remember these is “BatCage.”
This dimension of ABA emphasizes the importance of behavior being observable and measurable. It is important when identifying a behavior needed for change, that we are selecting a behavior that can be observed and measured.
According to Cooper et al. (2019), “the behavior must be measurable; the precise and reliable measurement of behavior is just as critical in applied research as it is in basic research” (p. 16).
We want to ask ourselves, “How is this behavior socially significant for our client?” Why are we teaching this and how does it improve the life of our client?
According to Cooper et al. (2019), “The applied in applied behavior analysis signals ABA’s commitment to effecting improvements in behaviors that enhance and improve people’s lives” (p. 16).
This is the most important dimension of ABA in my opinion since we are focused on the needs of our client. How will targeting this behavior improve the life of my client? We want to avoid targeting behaviors to appease others. This includes behaviors that might be disruptive or especially self stimulatory behaviors. Since these behaviors are often not harmful, we would not want to target these behaviors in intervention. Instead, ask yourself, how can we set up the environment to benefit my client? If they are engaging in a loud vocalization that another student in their classroom expresses is too loud for them, we want to try and position those students in a way that might be more comfortable. Our primary focus is the best interest of our client. There might be headphones that the other student can wear, or if the behavior is disruptive to the point that our client cannot complete basic tasks or learn in their environment, we can weigh our options and consider targeting the behavior at that point. This paragraph is not meant to give advice on specific cases, but rather to provide an example of how to assess the applied aspect of goals.
If we are creating skill acquisition goals, we want to be sure to select targets that are directly applicable to our client’s daily life. For example, if we are working on visual perception skills with a 15 year old male, we want to consider having them matching and sorting laundry rather than matching and sorting colored shapes. Although colored shapes still work on the goal, it is not as applied as using laundry. Using laundry is more socially significant since this client will be able to apply this skill.
When we discuss social significance, this does not mean what is best for social peers. That is important to recognize! Instead, how is this significant for our client?
This states that behavior plans and definitions should be written clearly and concisely like a recipe. This is so these plans can be implemented by many others to keep consistency across environments. How many of you have read a plan and still had many questions? It is not uncommon to need to reread sections of the plan and ask questions before working with a client. However, this behavior intervention plan and skill acquisition plan should be written in a clear and concise way that can be easily replicated and understood by others. When training caregivers on the plan, it should be written in nontechnical language so they can understand how to implement the strategies. Considering technological as a dimension of ABA is also important for accurate data collection and measuring effectiveness. We want to be sure that all caregivers, teachers, therapists, and family members are being consistent to help with the success of our clients.
Cooper et al. (2019) states, “A study in applied behavior analysis is analytic when the experimenter has demonstrated a functional relation between the manipulated events and a reliable change in some measurable dimension of the targeted behavior” (p. 17).
Research based interventions should be utilized. As we know, ABA is a science based on evidence and research. We want to be sure we are only using interventions that are evidence based and not recommending interventions that are heard. Continuing education is required to stay current and understand the most up to date interventions available. It is great to seek mentorship if you are unsure how to proceed when making decisions for a client.
Cooper et al. (2019), “A study in applied behavior analysis is analytic when the experimenter has demonstrated a functional relation between the manipulated events and a reliable change in some measurable dimension of the targeted behavior” (p. 17).
Review data when making behavior decisions. It is important to make decisions based on data when reviewing progress. Of course, we consider all aspects of benefits to the client and review data to guide our decision making. Is there a reliable change based on the intervention? Is there a functional relationships?
Cooper et al. says, “A study in applied behavior analysis is analytic when the experimenter has demonstrated a functional relation between the manipulated events and a reliable change in some measurable dimension of the targeted behavior” (p. 16).
Can the skill be performed with a variety of people in a variety of different settings? We want to be sure we are setting our clients up for success by generalizing the skills to other environments. There are many ways to promote generalization including using a variety of materials, people, and settings while teaching a new skill.
According to Cooper et al. (2019) “A behavior change has generality if it lasts over time, appears in environments other than the one in which the intervention that initially produced it was implemented, and/or spreads to other behaviors not directly treated by the intervention” (p. 18).
Ask yourself, has the intervention been successful? How can we review progress over time and in a variety of settings to ensure generalization and maintenance of skills.
Cooper et al. states, “A study in applied behavior analysis is analytic when the experimenter has demonstrated a functional relation between the manipulated events and a reliable change in some measurable dimension of the targeted behavior” (p. 17).
Use ethics to guide decision making and always consider the benefits and costs of an intervention before selecting a behavior change procedure. We also want to consider how we will fade these interventions when necessary. Especially for reinforcement!
Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2019). Applied Behavior Analysis (3rd Edition). Pearson Education (US). https://purdueuniversityglobal.vitalsource.com/books/9780134798769
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