Activity-Based Intervention Practices in Special Education

Article excerpt

Abstract

Teaching practices in natural settings such as activity-based intervention (ABI) are suggested as alternatives to be used in effective early childhood education. As a multidisciplinary model, ABI consists of four components, which are choosing activities according to the child's interests; teaching generalizable goals embedded in routines and planned activities; and using before and after behavior stimuli which have natural and meaningful relations with behaviors. The benefits of using ABI within instructional settings include providing children with multiple-practice opportunities; teaching the target skill within the framework of daily routines without further need for any extra activity; focusing on children's interests and intrinsic motivation; and enhancing the level of success in educational settings. Considering these advantages and benefits, one can state that practices based on activity-based intervention can be used effectively for children with developmental disabilities from various age and disability groups. This article included descriptions and examples of activity-based intervention.

Key Words

Children with Developmental Disabilities, Naturalistic Instruction, Activity-Based Intervention, Early Intervention.

There are many research findings on the effectiveness of techniques based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) such as direct instruction, errorless teaching, and discrete trial teaching to teach children with developmental disabilities (with mental retardation and/or autism) for various concept and skill teaching (Alberto & Troutman, 2006; Tekin & Kircaali-Iftar, 2004). Some of the targets for teaching children with developmental disabilities are teaching new skills, increasing or decreasing the acquired behaviors, and maintaining and generalizing the acquired behaviors (Kircaali-Iftar, 2007). However, research shows that in most of these ABA based techniques, learning usually happens during the acquisition (becoming able to do what could not before) phase. The lack effectiveness on the other phases of learning which are fluency (perform the behavior fast and easy), maintance (performing behavior after the instruction), and generalization (performing behavior in different circumstances) is apparent (Alberto & Troutman, 2006; Kerr & Nelson, 1998). By using ABA based techniques, skills are taught with adult guidance and within highly structured instructional arrangements. This is considered as the resource for the limitation that is mentioned above. In order to overcome this limitation, various techniques have recently been suggested in the literature that could be implemented in natural settings as an alternative for practitioners and researchers (Engelmann, 2003; Newman, Needelman, Reinecke & Robek, 2002; Schug, Tarver & Western, 2001; Wolery, Ault, & Doyle, 1992). In teaching techniques which are used in natural environments, teaching aims to be realized in the natural setting and to be systematic (Bricker, Preti-Frontczak, & McComas, 1998; Kurt & Tekin-Iftar, 2008; McBride & Schwartz, 2003). Besides, it is also mentioned that teaching techniques which are used in natural settings are more appropriate for inclusion environments and for parents to teach new skills to their children in their daily routines (Bricker, et al., 1998; Woods, Kashinath, & Goldstein, 2004).

Instructional techniques in natural settings are used more often for the education of individuals with developmental disabilities. Instructional techniques that are used in natural settings that are stated in the literature are incidental teaching, naturalistic time delay, mand-model, milieu teaching, transition-based teaching, and activity-based intervention (Allen & Cowan, 2008). In this study, ABI will be approached from the above instructional techniques that are used in natural settings.

Activity Based Intervention (ABI)

As a multidisciplinary model, ABI was first used by Diane Bricker and her colleagues at the University of Oregon (Bricker et al. …