The RBT Task list was developed by the BACB (Behavior Analyst Certification Board). This resource identifies the ABA concepts that a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) must be aware of and capable of implementing in applied behavior analysis services.
Topics on the RBT task list include: Measurement, Assessment, Skill Acquisition, Behavior Reduction, Documentation and Reporting, and Professional Conduct and Scope of Practice.
You can see the RBT Task List here: https://bacb.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/161019-RBT-task-list-english.pdf
The Skill Acquisition category of the RBT task list is one of the larger areas of the document. This section identifies specific ABA strategies and concepts related to improving a learner’s skills.
You can review additional skill acquisition information in the Skill Acquisition Posts Part 1 and Part 2.
In this post we will discuss the following concepts as they relate to skill acquisition in applied behavior analysis services:
- C-09: Implement stimulus fading procedures
- C-10: Implement prompt and prompt fading procedures
- C-11: Implement generalization and maintenance procedures
- C-12: Assist with the training of stakeholders (e.g. family, caregivers, other professionals)
Stimulus fading procedures
Stimulus fading refers to slowly fading out some aspect of a stimulus. Stimulus can come in the form of fading out a prompt or can be related to the learning materials themselves (ex: fading out the lines in the child’s name to teach him to write his name on his own).
Prompt and prompt fading procedures
A prompt is when an individual (typically, the client) receives help to complete an activity or display a specific behavior. In applied behavior analysis, a prompt helps the learner to achieve their treatment goals.
It is important to consider how you will fade out prompts to best ensure that the learner achieves as much independence as possible. This is referred to as prompt fading.
In the “Training Manual for Behavior Technicians Working with Individuals with Autism,” the authors, Jonathon and Courtney Tarbox, identify some of the most common prompts.1 These include:
- Physical prompts
- Model prompts
- Verbal prompts
- Gestural prompts
- Proximity prompts
- Visual Prompts
Prompts are often faded through the process of least to most prompt fading or most to least prompt fading.
In least to most prompting, the learner is allowed a chance for independent responding at the beginning of the learning session and more intrusive prompts are provided to help the child achieve the correct response as the session goes on when the child needs help. The goal is to have the child succeed at learning new skills, so the prompts should result in the child displaying a correct response while also encouraging independent responding when the learner is able to do so.
In most to least prompting, the learner is provided with a prompt that will almost certainly result in correct responding. For instance, the learner may not have been seen to have the ability to identify a picture of an apple among other fruits. When the teacher asks the learner to show her the apple, the teacher will immediately take the child’s hand and help the child to point to or touch the apple. In this scenario, the child will contact correct responding resulting in positive reinforcement which ultimately should lead to increases in skill acquisition.
In most to least prompting, be sure to remember to fade out the prompts. For instance, the second trial in the apple scenario could include a partial physical prompt (take the child’s hand almost to the apple or gently touching the wrist to encourage the child to move his hand toward the apple).
Generalization and maintenance procedures
Generalization refers to demonstrating a skill or behavior in multiple settings, with various materials, and/or in multiple ways.
It is important to consider that a learner must not only be able to demonstrate a skill in the learning environment, but what is more important, is that they can demonstrate the skill in their everyday life or when necessary.
For instance, if a learner is able to identify a walk or no-walk signal during desk work during the therapy session but is not able to identify these when out in the community, this could become a dangerous situation.
Maintenance refers to being able to keep a skill over time especially after the skill is no longer being targeted in treatment or intervention. For instance, a learner may no longer need daily oversight to brush his teeth properly, but this skill should be maintained for personal hygiene reasons. In this case, the parent or teacher should have the learner demonstrate his ability to brush his teeth on a periodic basis to ensure that the child is able to maintain independence and accuracy with this skill.
Assist with the training of stakeholders (e.g. family, caregivers, other professionals)
As a registered behavior technician, the professional should be able to assist with the training of others as related to the client they are working with. Although it is typically the supervisor or behavior analyst’s job to complete the treatment planning and oftentimes to complete consultations and parent training, the RBT could assist with these tasks in various ways.
Behavior technicians may play a role in training stakeholders by doing things such as collecting data, passing along information, summarizing sessions, and additional tasks as they gain more experience.
Other Articles You May Be Interested In:
Tarbox, J. & Tarbox, C. (2017). Training Manual for Behavior Technicians Working with Individuals with Autism.