April 7, 2019 Paige Paluch
Throughout my time learning about the principles and applications of applied behavior analysis (ABA), I have learned to incorporate some strategies in my everyday life to help improve my behavior and habits. For me in particular, I have tried to incorporate my own behavior plan to target my exercise and eating habits to maintain a healthier lifestyle.
My past behavior towards exercise was very aversive, and even the thought of going to the gym or working out made me exhausted. I would use a punishment procedure on myself as well—if I did not go to the gym enough during the week, I would extend my gym visits to even longer. I would come up with excuses each day, saying I was too busy or too tired to go to the gym. When I did end up working out, my punishment procedure made me dislike it even more. I should have used my knowledge of ABA and used reinforcement procedures before any type of punishment procedure was in place.
My past relationship with food and dieting also needed a behavior plan. I would use food as a reward for working out, which led to not seeing any progress on weight loss goals (pizza after a work out seems to cancel each other out). Instead of making small changes in my diet for each meal, I would try to go cold turkey and give up all unhealthy foods at once. This led to cravings, which led to indulging in these foods more often. I soon realized I needed to change this behavior as well.
Some strategies I used to combat my exercise and diet was to include reinforcement, shaping, and self-monitoring. In order to improve my relationship with exercise and going to the gym, I paired it with going with friends to make it a more enjoyable experience. This way, exercising was not such an aversive experience. I would start slow by setting goals of going to the gym 2 days a week for 30 minutes each. Once I met these goals, I would reward myself and then increase the time I spent at the gym. My ultimate goal was to go to the gym 5 days a week for 1 hour. Gradually reaching this goal instead of rushing helped me stay consistent and not give up on my goals.
For improving my diet, I set small goals to start with and went slow with my plan to change my food choices. I realized switching foods for healthier alternatives slowly, beginning with 1 meal a day helped me not binge or crave unhealthy foods throughout the day. I made sure to set realistic goals during this process, and reward myself once I met these goals. I also made sure to keep track of my progress by taking notes of what I ate in the day, which also helped me track my intake and let me know which areas I could improve on. This type of self-monitoring helped me keep track of my goals and stay on track for future goals.
Incorporating ABA strategies and procedures in my daily life has helped me improve my own personal behavior as well as change unhealthy habits. I now look forward to incorporating these skills in other areas of my everyday life.
Breaking Down ABA In Everyday Life
January 27, 2019 Paige Paluch
Applications of applied behavior analysis (ABA) are used in everyday life, whether one knows it or not. Some practical applications of ABA can be seen throughout everyone’s normal routines. This can be in the form of using an auditory stimulus as an alarm clock in the morning, manding (requesting) for a preferred item, reinforcing good behavior, or using prompts. These simple but important applications are found in almost everyone’s everyday life.
For example, most people wake up to an auditory stimulus of an alarm clock in the morning. Other auditory stimuli include fire alarms, car horns, or a phone ringing. I often use an auditory stimulus while cooking in order to know when a sufficient time has passed. Sometimes, visual prompts may be needed in ones daily life to ensure tasks get done promptly. For me, visual prompts are in the form of a white board calendar where I write what I need to get done for the week. For others, this can include post-it notes on their desks or a planner. These prompts definitely aid in keeping me on schedule on a day-to-day basis.
Daily life is filled with opportunities to embed applied behavior analysis approaches and techniques to promote learning or change behavior. Everyday activities such as mealtime, bathing, playtime, and bedtime can be opportunities to apply ABA strategies. Naturalistic methods can be used with children with autism in these everyday activities. During playtime, one can have the child request or mand for preferred items and reinforce this behavior. Reinforcing appropriate behavior ensures that this behavior will increase. This is a great way to increase language and communication skills in early learners, and can also help decrease problem behaviors.
A way to further explain this is that applied behavioral analysis is focused on an ABC sequence, or antecedent-behavior-consequence relationship. Antecedent is the action or event that happens directly before a behavior, behavior is the behavior that occurs, and consequence is the action or response that happens directly after the behavior occurs. An example is A (antecedent): child playing with toys, B (behavior): child requesting a certain toy from a peer, and C (consequence): the child receiving the toy and playing with it. Reinforcing appropriate behavior is a way to increase wanted behaviors. Thus, the ABC sequence can be analyzed throughout every day life. Taking note of the ABC’s of a behavior is important when trying to determine the function of the behavior and how one can modify the environment or how we respond to behavior to increase appropriate behaviors in the future.
Positive reinforcement is a strategy of ABA that is used often to encourage appropriate or positive behavior changes. Rewards can be given as positive reinforcement for appropriate behavior. An example of a reward in everyday life is giving a child a monetary allowance once they finish their chores. This positive reward will then increase the likelihood of the behavior in the future. This type of strategy has been shown to be very successful in creating a positive behavior change. It can also be very easy to incorporate positive reinforcement in everyday life.
Utilizing these strategies in everyday life can help create a positive behavior change as well as analyze our own behavior. Taking note of how you respond in a situation can help you make better decisions when attempting a behavior change.
Paige Paluch is a 2019 NYSABA ABA Ambassador. She is currently a student of the Sage Colleges Master of Science Applied Behavior Analysis Program.