Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a common therapy discipline used by special education teachers. As technology and understanding of applied behavior evolves, new tools and applications have been developed to assist children with special needs.
What is the Goal of ABA Therapy?
The goal of ABA Therapy is to collect objective data based on responses made by the child and analyze the data to determine if behavioral improvements are being made. If there is no progress under a particular intervention, teachers and caretakers may adjust the program so the child begins to improve.
ABA Therapy is used to either increase or decrease certain behaviors or actions. Teachers that use ABA Therapy are charged with improving socially significant behaviors such as:
- Academic performance
- Fine motor skills
- Personal self-care
- Domestic skills
- Work or study skills
Applied behavior analysis centers on the behavioral factors that explain how learning takes place. It’s common for teachers that engage in ABA Therapy to practice positive reinforcement as a part of their strategy. When a positive behavior is followed by a reward, the behavior is more likely to be repeated by the child. Through years of research, many tools have been developed that not only reinforce positive behavior, but help to discourage behavior that may cause harm or interfere with a child’s learning.
ABA Therapy Apps
As behavioral research continues, technological advancements have helped teachers with ABA Therapy in the areas of scheduling, behavior, communication, and more. Here are the top seven Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy apps for caregivers:
1. First-Then Visual Schedule
First-Then Visual Schedule is designed to deliver positive behavioral support for children who experience difficulties with their communication skills. Created by Good Karma Applications, this tool provides an affordable and easy-to-use audiovisual format that seamlessly works for all iOS devices. Because the iPhone and iPad are portable, First-Then Visual Schedule is perfect for school, home, and other familiar settings. The app also helps children transition to other activities more quickly and efficiently with its user-friendly design.
iPrompts is a picture-based scheduling app for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. It is used by caregivers working with developmentally and language-impaired children. The app is especially beneficial for caregivers who work with children with Down syndrome, autism, and apraxia of speech. Handhold Adoptive designed the app so the user can create a schedule made out of images, complete with a countdown timer so the child understands how much time is left for a specific activity. Additionally, iPrompts allows a caregiver to provide image prompts and the child can then choose the activity they want to work on.
ABA Therapy often involves the use of physical rewards when working with children to achieve the best behavioral improvement. As an example, teachers will typically give a child a number of stars for a behavior that should be repeated. Once the child has enough stars, he or she will receive a reward. iReward allows the user to choose the behavior they want reinforced, along with the reward the wish to designate for that behavior. The user can then choose the number of times the behavior needs to be completed before the reward is earned. iReward, designed by Grembe, is an excellent way for teachers and therapists to track different behavior benchmarks for children with different goals.
4. Behavior Tracker Pro
Behavior Tracker Pro is an iOS application that allows teachers, therapists, and parents to track certain behaviors of the child and record them in an easy-to-read behavioral chart or graph. With Behavior Tracker Pro, teachers can record video of specific behaviors or interventions to review with other caregivers. Created by Marz Consulting, Behavior Tracker Pro allows users to upload their data in a secure “Team Portal” for advanced online charting, collaboration, messaging, therapy management, and more.
5. Autism Track
Autism Track is a useful tool that greatly benefits ABA Therapy for children with autism. The app allows teachers or therapists to easily track interventions, positive or negative behaviors, and general progress. Autism Track’s checkboxes allow the user to record treatment, medications, and dietary changes that have been implemented into the ABA Therapy. Other user-friendly designs include “sliders” that allow behavior or symptoms to be rated by teachers or therapists, including:
- Eye contact
- Aggression or hostile actions
- Echolalia speech
Autism Track offers an organizational tool that provides a snapshot of interventions and behaviors each day. Users may also record symptoms and monitor compliance over time to determine success or failures of treatment and improve their therapy strategy.
6. Skill Tracker Pro
Similar to Autism Track, Skill Tracker Pro is an Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapy tool for caregivers assisting children with autism. Skill Tracker allows unlimited data for caregivers to track a child’s behavioral progress. It includes optional video capture, organizational charts, and reporting while using an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. Skill Tracker Pro has a built-in library with hundreds of targeted goals that can be assigned to the child’s program or therapy session. These goals are automatically randomized, but the user can choose which goal to target as they build their therapy plan or strategy.
7. ABC Data Pro
ABC Data Pro is an extremely useful data-collection app that assists therapists and teachers involved in ABA or special education. The app was designed for researchers conducting observational studies but quickly evolved as a tool for caregivers working for children with special needs. Created by CBTA Online, ABC Data Pro is simple tool for behavioral tracking, recording, and goal setting. This ease of use makes it a favorite for therapists and family members to graph successes of treatment, or improve strategies of Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy.
Educational Tools to Help Children with Special Needs
The apps listed above are designed to benefit children with special needs and help caregivers develop their approach to ABA Therapy. Students working to obtain their Master’s of Science in Special Education degree at Saint Joseph’s University will gain the skills and knowledge necessary to improve the lives of these children. Through an expansive curriculum, the degree program prepares students with real-life strategies and scenarios to advance their education and assist children with special needs.
Check out Saint Joseph’s University’s The Complete Guide to Being Hired as a Special Education Teacher.”