We Are 'Teachers' First
A couple weeks ago, a young BCBA took issue with me when I wrote that the framework for autism services was educational and that we were, in fact, teaching. While she wasn't fully clear in her disagreement, my understanding was that she had an incorrect perception of 'ABA' as a decontextualized kind of 'medical treatment' as would be using a bronchodilator for wheezing or insulin for diabetes.
At its foundation, Applied Behavior Analysis is an educational model which prioritizes appropriate alternative skills, corrects barriers to learning, teaches new skills, targets socially valid child-centered competence/autonomy and works on the the concurrent needs of all involved. From social skill development & Functional Communication Training to engaging some of the toughest interfering behaviors, we are, in fact, teaching
Teaching prioritizes pivotal behaviors and, above all, a focus on behavioral cusps. A small child who now can read has opened massive doors to new experiences and learning. Likewise, a small child now able to engage peers; demonstrate and use age appropriate social, adaptive and expressive skills has the same
Skilled teachers are always changing behavior by manipulating antecedents and motivating operations, environmental events and structure; assessing what interferes with learning and how to best respond and assess. In fact, this represents the foundations of Universal Design in Education and Differentiated Instruction. Applied Behavior Analysis is also, very much, a specific instructional methodology in the same way as are specific literacy or math resources.
Applied behavior analysis is different, however, in that it should also be considered a general classroom instructional methodology as well while also able to become far more individualized and prescriptive. The use of Applied Behavior Analysis as a more broadly based and general instructional methodology can, in fact, greatly reduce its need to become more individualized for given children in the first place
Teaching should ALWAYS help change lives but claims to be 'life changing' over dramatizes what we do while inferring promises not often able to be met. It can also be rather presumptive in a belief that others' larger lives need our help to 'change.' If we tone back & teach, it will be noticed and shared