ABA Assessment: The Most Common Types – Accel Therapies
Once your child has been diagnosed with Autism and referred for an ABA assessment, you might be thinking about what to expect. The process can be intimidating for parents, particularly those with a newly diagnosed child. An assessment can be completed once you have filled out and returned an intake packet, scripts, diagnostic summary, and provided a copy of your insurance card and license.
In this article, we take a detailed look at ABA assessments.
An Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) assessment is an incredibly important tool in accurately determining the relevant number of ABA hours (both future and compensatory), the clinically applicable makeup of these hours (therapeutic location, direct therapy, treatment planning, parent training, supervision, etc.), as well as providing a road-map to goal formulation and treatment planning.
ABA assessments measure skills across a vast range of domains, including motor imitation, language, visual perception, independent play, social play, linguistic structure, classroom and group skills, and other developmental disabilities. These assessments aren't designed to diagnose but instead play a crucial role in planning the makeup of ABA support that will offer the best starting point to treat a child.
An ABA assessment conducted as an Independent Evaluation is going to assess if a child is progressing in the school district's programs with existing variables in place, such as staff development opportunities, student-to-staff ratio, and instructional practices. If the evaluation doesn't show any progress, then changes to the child's educational program need to be implemented.
Common ABA Assessments
Here are some of the most common assessments used in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis.
Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)
This assessment is designed for learners between 12 to 48 months old. It's ideal for beginner learners as it encompasses development goals such as pointing, eye contact, joint attention, and beginner receptive skills such as "sit down," "come here," "clean up," and "wait."
Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment Placement Program (VB-MAPP)
The VB-MAPP is based on Dr. Skinner's analysis of verbal behavior and the usual verbal development of children who do not have autism spectrum disorder. It assesses your child's performance on various language, social, and communication skills benchmarks and offers an estimated developmental age for every skill. These details are helpful in identifying individualized objectives and goals.
The Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP) even entails a Barriers Assessment that pinpoints behavioral challenges along with a Transition Assessment that enables the team to come up with the least limiting environment to facilitate learning.
Administered biannually or annually, the assessment works as a benchmark to measure your child's progress in particular skill areas.
Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills – Revised (ABLSS-R)
This assessment gauges your child's skills across a range of benchmarks known to be deficient in individuals with autism spectrum disorders. These include visual performance, response to reinforcement, expressive/receptive communication, social play, group responding, and imitation. The assessment might even be used by caregivers as an interview tool.
The ABLSS-R is used to come up with tailored program objectives based on every child's current functional skills and abilities. It can be administered bi-annually or annually, and it works as a benchmark to ascertain your child's progress in particular skill areas.
Promoting Emergence of Advanced Knowledge (PEAK)
The PEAK assessment assesses areas of strength and areas of improvement for cognition and language skills. The four modules in this assessment are Generalization, Direct Training, Equivalence, and Transformation.
The outcomes of the Generalization and Direct Training module provide learners with a factor score that can be utilized to compare the age-normative score of peers of similar age. This assessment can indicate skill deficits, i.e., skills that they should've acquired at this age. This factor score is imperative in prioritizing skills and determining where programming needs to be implemented to attain age-normative scores.
Essential for Living (EFL)
Developed by Dr Pat McGreevy, the Essential for Living is an evidence-based behavior, functional, and communication skills assessment, curriculum, and skill-tracking instrument for children as well as adults with mild-to-severe disabilities.
The EFL is based on the procedures and principles of applied behavior analysis and Skinner's analysis of verbal behavior. The assessment focuses on functional life skills but provides a much broader scope that allows for the identification and remediation of problem behavior. It guides the development of meaningful objectives and goals for individual behavior plans, instructional programs, and education plans.
Assessment of Functional Living Skills (AFLS)
Created by Dr Michael Mueller and Dr James Partington, the AFLS comprises the AFLS guide and six assessment components that determine practical, functional, along with age-appropriate life skills.
According to the authors, functional skills are age-appropriate skills that are used every day for usual routines and activities and are vital for living independently. Developed and formatted as an extension of the ABLLS-R, every AFLS assessment component analyzes functional skills into two to four levels.
Every assessment protocol can be used independently but together form a comprehensive assessment that covers a life-long continuum of skills.
It's essential to know that the AFLS guide offers a complete list of functional skills but doesn't provide particular methods for teaching these skills. The six assessment components are Home Skills, Basic Living Skills, School Skills, Community Participation Skills, Vocational Skills, and Independent Living Skills. Examples of skills included in the assessment are grooming, dressing, grocery shopping, laundry, money management, cooking, computer, and job interview skills.
The AFLS is appropriate for older learners, specifically ages 16 and higher, who need to develop daily, independent living skills. This entails learners who have shown minimal progress in skill acquisition programs, learners with restricted functional communication skills, and learners with dual diagnoses.
Last Few Words
When working with the family of a child with autism spectrum disorder, there's no better tool for determining educational methodology, intensity, frequency, and duration of support. Applied behavior analysis is the gold standard for students with autism spectrum disorder and thus must be considered in every case in which ASD is the primary diagnosis.
At Accel Therapies, our behavior analysts can conduct an ABA Assessment to accurately pinpoint both future and compensatory ABA support, including the provision of parent training, treatment planning hours, and location of service. Contact us to learn more.