Autism Treatment: Why My Verbal Behavior Approach is Different & Better

I recently did a podcast on the 10 ways that I believe my verbal behavior approach for autism treatment is different and better for kids with autism. So today, I want to give you the top three ways that I believe my approach is unique and might be able to help you and help your children or clients do better.

In the past two decades, I have seen a lot of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) programs for autism treatment and a lot of programs where people are telling me that they’re using a verbal behavior approach. They’re using a VB-MAPP and implementing some of the procedures in my book. But sometimes when I look at those treatment options or I look at the VB-MAPP and the treatment plan, I tend to think that professionals and parents could be using my approach as well to help these children more. Because some of these kids are having problem behaviors.

I believe that my approach for autism treatment might be able to help you turn things around, even if you haven’t made a lot of progress with some of your clients or children.

Autism Treatment Experience

The first reason why I believe my program for treating people with autism is different is that I have a lot of experience with in the behavioral subjects. I fell into the autism world in 1999 when my firstborn son Lucas was diagnosed with autism. It was just one day before his third birthday. At that point, I had a master’s degree in nursing and was working in the neurology rehab field as a nurse manager. I worked with multidisciplinary teams, created multidisciplinary goals with occupational therapy, speech language pathology, parents and loved ones of patients.

While I was a nurse manager, I had to deal with a lot of organizational behavior management.  I published in the field of nursing retention, shift reporting, and time management. These are all very behavioral subjects that I was studying without really ever hearing the term ABA. Then in 2003 I became a Behavioral Analyst and earned a Ph.D. in 2011 to become a doctoral level BCBA.

For 7 years I worked as the Lead Behavior Analyst for the Pennsylvania Verbal Behavior Project, working with hundreds of kids across the spectrum of ages and abilities. I also spent at least 7 or 8 years as an early intervention provider with birth to 3-year-olds in schools and in homes. After my book was published in 2007, I traveled the world and began selling online courses for autism treatment to both professionals and parents within the autism community.

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Bringing in Outside Experience

I can relate to both parents and Behavior Analysts. This helped me create programs and create step by step procedures that are effective with lay people and parents, new therapists, as well as seasoned professionals who may be very good at what they do, but they’re having a hard time quickly training people without a lot of data.

The second way I believe my approach for treating people with autism is different is that I use a very common-sense ABA approach. This is probably because of the different hats I wear that give me multiple perspectives. I know that parents are overwhelmed. They can’t be taking loads of data – or any data in many situations. I am very attuned to how people best learn how they should be trained.

My common sense approaches focuses on teaching and includes finding 8 positives to every negative, which was originally taught to me by Glen Latham. Everything I do is very positive. If you see problem behaviors, demands are too high and reinforcements are too low, we need to flip that. 95% of our time should be spent preventing problem behaviors. Avoid escape extinction procedures. I want to encourage both professionals and parents to step back, look at the forest, and not the trees. Don’t just focus on language or problem behaviors. Focus on self-care, leisure skills, pre-vocational skills, and academic skills. Look at what the patient and what the parents value, the age of the child, whether they have siblings, and many other variables.

A Holistic Approach to Autism Treatment

What I don’t do is tit for tat programming. I like to step back and really focus on the major things that kids need when treating autism. Major being, can they request their wants and needs?  Do they have major problem behaviors at or near zero? How is their toileting? Can they toilet themselves or with some supervision? These are the things that I think are really going to make a difference in their lives. Sometimes people jump too far in and look at the trees and not the forest.

Throughout my courses, I’m using my approach, which is different than anyone else’s because of my background. If you want to learn more about the ways my program is different, you can listen to the podcast at marybarbera.com/15.

The best way for me to help you is to learn more about joining my online course and community. It’s a long process to learn how to shift your approach and do things positively. My goal is to help you make more progress. To incorporate parents and professionals together to help each child reach their fullest potential. I would love to have you at a free online workshop at marybarbera.com/workshop.

Want to get started on the right path and start making a difference for your child or client with autism?
SIGN-UP FOR DR. MARY BARBERA’S FREE TRAINING