Applied behavior analysis and educator effectiveness

Autism is a pervasive developmental disability which affects an estimated one in 110 children in the United States (Autism Speaks, 2010). Difficulties with social interaction, communication problems, and unusual behaviors are defining characteristics of autism. Because of these characteristics, individuals with autism often struggle with understanding the world. This thesis looks at one technique which has been found effective in reaching individuals with autism, Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA. While ABA has been successfully used in certain environments, it has not gained universal acceptance among teachers or widespread usage in classrooms. This study focuses on special education staff in one school district to ascertain attitudes towards the use of ABA. Staff was surveyed regarding training in ABA and the ways that training was utilized. Respondents were also questioned about the helpfulness of that training in common classroom situations. Survey results found ABA to be an effective intervention in a variety of categories. The survey also found a correlation between the amount of training in ABA and perceived effectiveness in teaching students with autism. KEY WORDS: Applied behavior analysis, autism, effectiveness, interventions, perceptions, special education staff