Why Fluency?

Fluency is defined as the ability to respond with accuracy, with little hesitation and at a fast pace (Binder, 1996).  Some everyday examples of fluency are: a barista making a cafe late, a sushi chef making rolls, and a hairdresser cutting hair.

Fluency is also applied to learning language, academic skills, play skills, and social skills.  All are deficit areas for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), and Pervasive Developmental Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).  Children with these developmental disabilities are often described as needing “extra thinking time” or “slow to process information”, when in reality they need to learn to use their skills fluently: correctly and without hesitation.  For example, a child approaches your son or daughter on the playground and initiates play: “Hi, what’s your name?”.  This social request needs a fast response made by your son or daughter, otherwise that peer will lose their interest and walk away. Such social requests also require children to respond to their peers in socially appropriate ways in order for those peers to maintain their interest in your son or daughter. Social situations, opportunities to learn new language skills, or apply learned language skills into academic and play settings all happen at a fast pace in your child’s life, and these moments can quickly pass if your child does not learn to fluency.  Fluency instruction targets both the speed and accuracy of your child’s responding in social situations, language skills, self-help skills, play skills, gross and fine motor development, and academics.
If you have any questions about how Fluency is applied in an ABA program, please feel free to contact us.
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The principles of ABA allow us to select target behaviors to increase (i.e. adaptive behaviors), or decrease (i.e. maladaptive behaviors), to maintain current levels of adaptive skills, to teach new skills, and to program for maintenance and generalization of skills that have been taught. These principles are grounded in years of scientific research, and replicated studies. The application of these principles to the teaching of individuals with ASD has been scientifically validated through applied research.

Early research by D. Baer, M. Wolf, T. Risley, and I. Lovaas, demonstrated that with early and intensive intervention, children with ASD can learn new skills and concepts, and generalize what they have learned across people, and environments (eg: new places and situations), and maintain skills over time.

ABA is a science that allows us to systematically implement basic principles of behavior (e.g: reinforcement, shaping, and chaining etc...) to help individuals learn how to learn. It is important to note that it is not a single specific instructional methodology. Sometimes "ABA" becomes confused with different types of instructional methods, such as "Lovaas-type ABA" or "Verbal Behavior ABA". There are many different instructional methodologies that are all based in the science of ABA. Some examples include: Discrete Trial Teaching, Verbal Behavior, Fluency Based Instruction, Natural Environment Teaching, and Video Modeling. Each of these instructional methods incorporates the basic principles of ABA into their instructional designs, however, each may place an emphasis on different aspects of learning.

Baer, D., Wolf, M., & Risley, R. (1968). Some current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1, 91-97.
Baer, D., Wolf, M., & Risley, R. (1987). Some still-current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 20, 313-327.
Cooper, J., Heron, T., & Heward, W. (2007). Applied Behavior Analysis: Second Ed. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
Lovaas, I., (1987). Behavioral treatment and normal educational and intellectual functioning in young autistic children. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55, 3-9.
Sallows, G.O., Graupner, T.D. (2005). Intensive behavioral treatment for children with autism: four-year outcome and predictors. American Journal of Mental Retardation, 110, 417-438 Weiss, M.J. (2001). Expanding ABA intervention in intensive programs for children with autism: The inclusion of natural environment training and fluency based instruction. The Behavior Analyst Today, 2, 182-186.

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