Our Methodologies and Ethos
We use a range of individualised, child-centred and evidence-based techniques at Early Steps.
Child-centred learning is used in all our sessions, as well as discussion time with parents or teaching staff about our techniques.
Our practitioners are experienced and passionate about evidence-based practice and the science of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) and Naturalistic Developmental Behavioural Interventions (NDBI) which we incorporate into our teaching strategies.
ABA is the application of the 'science of learning' and has a long history of research demonstrating how the science can be used to help people with everyday problems.
It can also be applied to help children with developmental disabilities learn new skills. Some families even choose to run an intensive intervention programme based on ABA for their child, to help teach communication, play and self-care skills. This is called EIBI (early intensive behavioural intervention). This is not something we offer at Early Steps, but we will be happy to signpost families to local providers.
At Early Steps, among other strategies, we use the principles of behaviour analysis and apply them to our practice. Each session will look different depending on each child's needs, but we may use visual supports, alternative communication methods, behavioural skills teaching (BST), and of course plenty of positive reinforcement!
In our sessions for older primary-school age children we also include the AIM curriculum and activties based around acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).
We believe that everyone has the right to evidence-based effective intervention to help them with the things they are struggling with.
As part of our credentials we must adhere to a strict ethical code.
We involve children and families as much as possible in the process and work with their preferences, helping them gain important life skills and ultimately be able to advocate for themselves.
Our Stance on the 'controversy' surrounding ABA
We do not believe in changing someones identity to help them fit in with society
We do not support or align ourselves with organisations that use aversive procedures
We believe in listening to autistic voices and being sensitive to the populations we serve
We respect cultural, neurological and ethnic diversity
Myths and Misunderstandings About ABA
1. ABA is a treatment for autism - ABA is not a therapy or treatment for autism. It is a science - the science of how we learn.
Our practice at Early Steps uses science.
2. ABA only teaches rote learning - although there are aspects of rote learning in all our lives, ABA is so much more than this! ABA practitioners understand how people learn and can use this knowledge to teach anything, including how to problem solve, understand emotions and express individuality.
3. ABA tries to normalise people - this is a big fat NO from us! Whilst historically scientists in the 60s and 70s used behaviour modification to change people (and schools used corporal punishment!), we now have a very strict ethical code which prevents us from doing anything that is not in the individuals best interest. Here is a link to our code if you would like to learn more:
4. ABA uses bribes - ABA uses positive reinforcement to increase every-day skills which is not the same as a bribe.
Reinforcement is the concept that actions are more likely to be repeated in future if something preferred happens afterwards.
Bribing happens when someone is already doing something undesired and you offer them something in order to make them stop. This is also not the same as distraction.
See the link below for more on what ABA is and what it is not: