When your child first starts ABA therapy you will hear many different phrases. One we talk about often with our parents is the importance of generalization from clinic to home settings. It is crucial that we provide parent trainings for children in our ABA therapy program so that their parents are able to take these skills home and work on them as well. In this blog we will talk about what generalization is, the different types, and the importance of generalization from clinic to home.
Generalization is “the act or process whereby a learned response is made to a stimulus similar to but not identical with the conditioned stimulus.” In other words, generalization in ABA is the ability for your child to use new skills in multiple settings and with other people, outside of the learning environment. According to Baer, Wolf, and Risely, one of the 7 essential dimensions of a child’s ABA plan is generality/generalization. For a child’s ABA plan of care to be complete they must follow the 7 essential dimensions. We will cover all of those another day and go into more depth! Today is just focused on generalization.
There are different types of generalization so it’s important that we discuss the differences because these are all things that we will work on with children in our ABA therapy program.
-Over-Generalization: When something has been taught too broadly to a child, they might experience over-generalization. This will typically cause results that we are not looking for. Let’s say a child has been taught to open the door whenever the doorbell rings. If they then start opening the door whenever a telephone rings because of a similar sound, this would be considered over-generalization.
-Situation Generalization: This occurs when a skill or behavior occurs outside of the setting where it was taught. For example, any time the child is able to take a skill learned in ABA therapy and correctly perform that same skill at home.
-Stimulus Discrimination: For this to be accomplished a child will have learned the difference between how to react to certain situations. We might teach a child that it’s ok to dance to songs at a wedding or birthday parties but when at church it’s not ok to dance to the music.
-Stimulus Generalization: For a child to have successfully learned stimulus generalization it means that they can differentiate between two different stimuluses. If a child’s father has a beard and they know to call him “dad” but then continues to call every other male with a beard “dad” then that means they have not quite learned this yet.
-Response Generalization: When a child can take a skill they have learned and then do a variation of it in a similar situation. A simple way of looking at this one is with greetings. You might teach your child to first say “hello” and then once they begin to say “hi” or “what’s up?” they have then learned response generalization.
-Response Maintenance: This is the continuation of a learned behavior after intervention has been taken away or removed. Basically, this means that the behavior is still in place after we have taken away some or all of the intervention. A great example of this is when we use a token system to help teach or work on a task/skill. Over time we will take away the token board and if they continue to be able to do this task or skill at the same level then response maintenance has been achieved.
When a child is receiving ABA therapy they will have a specific plan of care that a BCBA has written for them. This plan of care will include specific skills that they will be working on in clinic with their RBT (registered behavior technician). As a child masters these skills, we will add in new age-appropriate skills to then work on. When a child is receiving ABA therapy in clinic, like at PediaPlex, it is a different environment than what they might be used to at home. While they may be able to do a specific task independently in clinic, it’s not considered successful until it can be achieved outside of the clinic environment as well. This is why we focus so much on the importance of generalization from clinic to home.
To help with this we provide parent training within the clinic. This will differ per client but will involve one or both of the client’s parents coming in and working one on one with their child and therapist. During these trainings we are able to teach the skills we are working on so that parents can take these skills home and try them themselves. This not only helps the parents be more informed on their child’s plan of care but also helps the child to gain these skills quicker because they are able to work on them at home as well.
At PediaPlex we offer one-on-one ABA therapy in a clinic setting. We have locations throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area in Southlake, Fort Worth, and Frisco. Each clinic offers not only ABA therapy, but also speech therapy, occupational therapy, and feeding therapy. Our collaborative approach to therapy allows children to receive all of their services in one location for a full therapeutic day. This also ensures that your child’s therapists are all able to collaborate on your child’s plan of care making sure we are all focused on the same goals! Interested in knowing more about our therapy services at PediaPlex? Visit our website today.
To learn more about other terms used in ABA therapy, check out this blog that talks all about terms used in ABA therapy.
-The PediaPlex Family