Thus began Simon’s treatment using Applied Behavior Analysis. Ever since the intake meeting, Barbara’s mind has been filled with new dreams, the dreamer Barbara finds the meaning of life. Now wait for treatment to start. On the second day, Rebecca brought along her assistant, the junior therapist, Leena. Barbara and Simon were overjoyed to see Lina, the bubbly, cheerful therapist. Barbara said, we will not teach him anything right away. The first step consists of various types of assessment. Barbara then went on to talk about several assessment tools such as ABLLS-R (Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills), VB-MAPP (Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program), etc. Anna then instructed the junior therapist to begin an assessment of Simon immediately. And yes, before that he reminded Leena first, to pair up with Simon. Pairing means developing a therapeutic relationship with the client in which Simon likes Lena, likes spending time with Lena, and thereby develops an appropriate instructional control, which then helps Lena provide therapy to Simon. Rebecca has a pen and paper ready to take notes, why, when, does Simon do unwanted things, and what is his function?
There are basically four reasons behind all human behavior. No, not only human beings, but all living beings must have one of those four reasons behind all their practices, sometimes there may be more than one reason. Only if an experienced behavior analyst can identify the cause by performing a proper functional analysis, can the behavior be brought under control. Those reasons are:
1. Social attention: Social attention is one of the main reasons why other animals, including humans, do everything in the world. For example, a baby, who cannot speak, may want to be ridden, but he has not yet learned to express it. As a result, she cries loudly. Why is she crying? One of the main reasons or functions of this cry is that he will get social attention, someone will come and pick him up. Think about it, you will understand yourself, we do a lot of things everyday for attention. And it’s a key factor in behavior.
2. Escape: This is also a significant factor in behavior. Imagine you ask your ten-year-old to wash the dishes after dinner. He started shouting, saying, ‘I have an assignment’, or ‘Now I have free time’, or maybe, ‘Now I’ll watch TV,’ or, it turns out, he started rambling unnecessarily. Annoyed, you said, ‘Wait, you don’t have to.’ I’ll do it. As a result, your child was able to escape the dishwashing, and you unknowingly re-enforced his habit of rumination by relieving him of the chore. What happened to it? The child learns that, later on, if he wants to get rid of this task, he needs to meditate a little more. Isn’t it so? In our daily life we use many tools whose function is to escape.
3. Seeking Access to Tangibles or Activities: Many uses of living things have tangibles as their function (to get a thing or to do an activity.)
For example, while you were talking on the phone, your three-year-old was walking home on the table. You held out your iPad, stopping him. The kid then stopped making noises and busied himself with the iPad. So, the function of him making noise at the table is to get the iPad, which you might or might not otherwise have given him at a certain time of day.
4. Sensory Stimulation: Many uses have no apparent reason to be found. It is inherent. For example, when you scratch your head, scratch your back, tap your fingers, shake your feet, etc. But yes, because people with autism have some developmental delays, they can’t do many things like others their age, so they tend to be a little more involved in these sensory activities. Many a client’s mother has said to me sadly, ‘Why does my daughter repeatedly shake her fingers and play with her fingers in front of everyone? Or, keep giving the house in the head again and again? It’s quite a sight. This made it obvious to someone who didn’t know my daughter had autism that my daughter was autistic. It makes me feel social irony.’ It is not possible for them to answer it in one word. There may be several reasons behind this. This could be due to one or all of them. For example,
A. Perhaps lacking other skills, he thinks this is how he can easily get social attention.
b. Maybe he doesn’t like to go in front of guests. And his past history says that whenever he does this in front of guests, mom removes him, takes him to another room and continues cartoons, which he likes (Access to Tangible + Escape).
c. To remove guests from the front,
d. Maybe he has a headache, which he can’t explain, but he feels temporary relief if he puts it on his head. In this case the target behavior is a ‘home in the head’, but its function is four. Therefore, functional analysis by a properly trained behavior analyst should be done to identify the root cause of the usage, then work on its remedy. B.F.Skinner, in 1948, first used functional analysis to analyze behavior. Since then, it is considered the first step in behavior therapy in the field. The way doctors don’t diagnose, or treat, diseases without doing blood work; Thus, proper assessment and functional analysis are required before initiating behavioral intervention.
Anyway, back to the incident. Barbara is amazed to see Lena working with Simon, how ordinary and normal things are performed by Lena, and what beautiful magic. . Barbara looked speechless. He wanted to run and hug Leena. But at the end of the Lena session, she is like a different person! Barbara didn’t find Lena behind Lena’s blushing, professional seriousness that first time she met her. Anyway, Simon is listening to some extent! And to give all the credit to Lena, Barbara didn’t feel the least bit stingy.
A week later, James came home in the evening and instinctively called, “Simon-Raphael!” He loves to howl when he comes into the house, even though he knows that Raphael won’t hear him from upstairs, and Simon won’t respond if he does. He does this rather to let Barbara know that he has arrived. But to his great surprise, Simon came forward from behind the door saying ‘Dad!’ James seemed to find the meaning of life anew.
A month later, when a guest comes to the house, Barbara deliberately messes up the toys, and calls Simon in front of everyone, saying, ‘Put them in the box, Daddy!’ He only says in his heart, ‘I don’t want anything else in life.’
Three months have passed, today the Barbaras are invited to the nuns’ house again. Back home, with Simon watching Rhymes with all the other kids, Barbara knew what was about to happen. Standing behind Simon, he clicked the video button and mentally counted from one to five, Simon sang, ‘Five Little Ducks…’ in front of everyone. The whole area burst into applause. Since then, Simon has been keeping tabs on his parents and acquaintances.
Autism is neither a contagious disease nor a curse. It is a developmental dis-ability. People with autism learn certain skills a little differently, at a different pace, than others their age; But with proper treatment, they also thrive in life, they also become self-reliant. And so the earlier the treatment is started, the higher the success rate.