Bringing ABA to Home, School, and Play for Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Disabilities


Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is one of the most effective interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities. Now you can bring ABA best practices into any early childhood setting with this book—your complete guide to using ABA within everyday routines to support children’s learning, participation, and development.

Ideal for use with children birth to five, this practical, reader-friendly guidebook is the first to combine ABA with natural ...

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Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is one of the most effective interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities. Now you can bring ABA best practices into any early childhood setting with this book—your complete guide to using ABA within everyday routines to support children’s learning, participation, and development.

Ideal for use with children birth to five, this practical, reader-friendly guidebook is the first to combine ABA with natural environment intervention, the widely used, research-supported approach to meeting the needs of children with disabilities. You’ll learn the fundamental principles and research behind ABA and natural environment intervention, and you’ll get one clear and practical framework for

  • conducting effective assessment of behavior, skills, routines, and caregiver priorities
  • setting meaningful goals that increase the child’s active participation in routines
  • addressing the goals with tailored ABA teaching procedures
  • creating powerful intervention plans that support children in specific developmental domains and routines
  • selecting an appropriate data collection method
  • monitoring progress toward goals and making adjustments as needed
  • ensuring consistent implementation of ABA interventions
  • coaching other professionals and caregivers in the ABA approach

To get you started with ABA, the book gives you 25 sample teaching plans that strengthen communication, social interaction, positive behavior, independent play and daily living skills, cognitive skills, and participation in everyday routines. Vivid, realistic case studies of diverse children walk you through the ABA process from start to finish. And with the blank forms and data sheets, you’ll easily assess children’s skills and participation and monitor their progress toward goals.

With this comprehensive guide to a proven intervention approach, you’ll help young children with ASD and other disabilities make lasting improvements and participate fully at home, at school, and in their community.

A featured book in our Better Behavior Kit!

See which domain of school readiness in the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework this book addresses.

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Editorial Reviews

Lynn Koegel

"A comprehensive and practical guide to many important intervention issues . . . both positive and informative, with recommendations that will help a child with autism reach his or her potential."
Professor, Department of Special Education, University of Hawaii - Mary Jo Noonan
"Too often behavioral interventions for young children with autism are implemented in isolated and artificial situations that result in a child's failure to acquire new skills. This book provides the much-needed framework for how to implement these proven methods in inclusive settings to promote generalization."
Director, Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis Program & Professor, Endicott College, MA - Mary Jane Weiss
"Fills a gap in the implementation literature . . . The author has taken great care to decipher the maze of the treatment options world."
Education Shelf California Bookwatch
"Packed with exercises that can help young children with disabilities make lasting social improvements and is a top pick for any education collection strong in disabilities management."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781598572407
  • Publisher: Brookes, Paul H. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 9/1/2012
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 996,809
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Debra Leach, Ed.D., BCBA, is Assistant Professor of Special Education at Winthrop University and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She previously served as a public school teacher, as an early intervention provider, and as Associate Director for the Florida Atlantic University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. Her main research interests include autism spectrum disorders, inclusion, applied behavior analysis, positive behavior supports, and early intervention. She enjoys training preservice teachers and working with school districts, families, and community groups to support the successful inclusion of children, adolescents, and adults with autism spectrum disorders in home, school, and community contexts.

Dr. McWilliam is the Siskin Endowed Chair of Research in Early Childhood Education, Development, and Intervention at Siskin Children’s Institute. He is also a professor of education at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and an adjoint professor of special education at Vanderbilt University. He has formerly been a professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, a senior scientist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, and a professor of education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. McWilliam’s research centers on infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with and without disabilities, with a specific focus on child engagement, service delivery models, and collaboration with families. He has provided consultation, training, and technical assistance across the United States and in some countries overseas on providing early intervention in natural environments and on the Engagement Classroom Model. His Routines-Based Interview (RBI) is a widely used method of assessing families’ needs and developing individualized family service plan (IFSP) outcomes and individualized education program (IEP) goals.

Travis Thompson, Ph.D., L.P., Graduate Faculty Member, Special Education Program, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and Consulting Psychologist, Minnesota Early Autism Project, 7242 Forestview Lane North, Maple Grove, Minnesota 55369

Dr. Thompson is affiliated with the Autism Certificate Program in the Special Education Program of the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota, and he is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Applied Behavioral Science at the University of Kansas, Lawrence. He is a collaborator on a multisite project on challenging behavior in developmental disabilities including the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Maryland; the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and the University of Kansas, Parsons. He is a licensed psychologist.

Dr. Thompson completed his doctoral training in psychology at the University of Minnesota and completed postdoctoral work at the University of Maryland. He spent a year at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom and a year as a visiting scientist at the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Rockville, Maryland. Dr. Thompson was Director of the John F. Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development at Vanderbilt University and Director of the Institute for Child Development at the University of Kansas Medical Center—a clinical, training, and research institute. Dr. Thompson has served on several National Institutes of Health research review committees, including chairing reviews of the applicants for Collaborative Programs of Excellence in Autism awards in 2000, 2003, and 2007. He has been a member of American Psychological Association (APA) task forces concerned with the practice of psychology and psychopharmacology. He is a past president of the Behavioral Pharmacology Society, the Division of Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse, and the Division of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities of the APA.

Dr. Thompson has received numerous

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Read an Excerpt

Excerpted from Chapter 1 of Bringing ABA to Home, School, and Play for Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Disabilities, by Debra Leach, Ed.D., BCBA
Copyright© 2012 by Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Overview of Natural Environment Intervention

This chapter provides an overview of the use of natural environment intervention (NEI) for young children with disabilities. Coverage of the topic includes NEI’s legal foundations and a review of literature on the principles of effective practice when implementing NEI. An overview of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is offered, together with a discussion of research specifically related to NEI for young children with ASD.


NEI is a federally mandated early intervention approach for young children with disabilities that systematically maximizes teaching and learning opportunities throughout the day by embedding interventions within naturally occurring routines. Caregivers spend many hours with their child throughout the day, and this time can and should be used for interventions that will enhance the child’s development. In using NEI, caregivers are not required to set aside extra time in their day to provide “therapy.” Instead, they receive training and support from professionals to provide evidence-based interventions within the context of their daily routines. Thus, NEI doesn’t require extra time, but it does require a more systematic use of time spent with the child to optimize learning opportunities throughout the day.
         According to federal special education law (Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act [IDEA]), natural environments are defined as home and community settings in which children without disabilities participate (IDEIA, 2004). The law requires that early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities be implemented in natural environments to the maximum extent appropriate. This stipulation reflects research indicating that everyday family and community routines and activities provide young children with an optimal variety of learning opportunities (Dunst, Hamby, Trivette, Raab, & Bruder, 2000). Natural environments include a variety of home-, school-, and community-based routines. Examples of home-based routines may include dressing, bathing, eating, cleaning the house, playing outdoors or inside, and reading books. Community-based routines may include going to the grocery store, beach, library, and park. School-based routines may include circle time, lunch, centers, recess, library, small-group instruction, and whole-group instruction. These everyday home, school, and community routines provide young children with many different learning opportunities. When children are actively engaged in everyday routines, they have multiple opportunities to apply their existing skills and acquire new ones.
         The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the world’s largest organization working on behalf of young children, uses the developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) framework as the foundation of all its work. The core principles of DAP in early childhood education are that knowledge must inform decision making, goals must be challenging and achievable, and teaching must be intentional to be effective (NAEYC, 2012). These guiding principles also provide the framework for NEI through all phases of intervention, including assessment, goal setting, designing and implementing instruction, and evaluating the effects of instruction. When applying DAP to NEI for young children with disabilities, caregivers are heavily involved in the assessment process to identify the child’s strengths, interests, eve

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Table of Contents

About the Author vi

Foreword Travis Thompson vii

Foreword R.A. McWilliam x

Preface xiii

1 Overview of Natural Environment Intervention 1

2 Understanding Applied Behavior Analysis 13

3 Assessment for Planning ABA Interventions in the Natural Environment 25

4 Goal Setting for ABA Interventions in the Natural Environment 57

5 Developing Teaching Procedures for ABA Interventions in the Natural Environment 69

6 Data Collection and Analysis 95

7 Putting It All Together 109

References 115

Readers Guide 121


A Sample Communication Skills Teaching Plans 125

B Sample Social Interaction Skills Teaching Plans 129

C Sample Independent Play and Daily Living Skills Teaching Plans 135

D Sample Cognitive Skills Teaching Plans 139

E Sample Positive Behaviors Teaching Plans 143

F Sample Intervention Plans for Targeted Routines 147

G Blank Forms for Assessment, Goal Setting, and Data Collection 151

Index 181

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