Today a parent contacted me to find out more about ABA. She was looking into different types of therapies, and was not sure if she was comfortable with ABA. She had heard somewhere that ABA can make kids produce rote responses. One way to avoid teaching rote responding and promote generalization comes from how you implement teaching procedures. Teaching loosely is an important factor to consider when planning for this.
Teaching loosely refers to varying the instructional setting when teaching a new skill. For example, when doing mand training, it is important to teach new mands among different people, rather than with just one person.
That way the learner is more likely to initiate manding with various individuals, not just the individual that taught them their initial mands.
Cooper, Heron and Heward (2007) have some great tips on how to “teach loosely”:
- Vary the teachers
- Teach in different settings, and in different positions
- Vary the way you speak and the words you use
- Vary the number of individuals present
- Wear different clothing
- Vary availability of reinforcers
- Vary the lighting, sounds, temperature, and smells in the setting
- Vary the time of day a skill is taught
- Basically be unpredictable!
Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis (2nd ed.). Upper SaddleRiver, NJ: Pearson