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Hyperactivity & ABA

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition of attention difficulty, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. There are many symptoms an individual may experience such as aggression, impulsivity, irritability, absent-mindedness, difficulty focusing, mood swings, depression, and learning disability to name a few. ABA uses behavioral principles to teach new skills and reduce problem behaviors. There are 3 ABA techniques that are commonly used to condition functional behaviors in individuals with ADHD:

  • Differential reinforcement of behaviors: Positive reinforcement is carried out in response to appropriate behaviors that are exhibited.

  • Discrete Trial Training/Task Analysis: This method involves breaking down complex behaviors into a number of elements, which are separately and sequentially reinforced to build up into the desired behavior.

  • Self-management training: This technique teaches self-awareness and provides a toolbox of skills, including self-praise, that can help with the self-management of problematic behaviors. This skill is mostly used for older individuals.

Here are also 5 easy steps that a parent/guardian/caretaker can use to help individuals with ADHD:

1. Praise appropriate behaviors/reinforcement

It is important to focus on the positive things your child has done and reinforce and praise these. These may be little things like, hanging their coat up or taking their dinner plate to the sink. They might spend a lot of their day being told what they are doing wrong so it is important to find the good and acknowledge it.

2. Use clear instructions

Give clear instructions about the behavior you want to see. Keep the expectation reasonable and something the child is capable of doing. Avoid vague statements such as “you need to pay attention” or “you need to do better”, and instead be clear about the behavior you expect, for example, “put your coat on the hanger” or “brush your teeth after washing your face”. It is easier to follow a direction that is simple and clear.

3. Token board/Points system

It is important for children to see their day-to-day progress. It also allows them to achieve rewards based on their progress. The goal is for the child to complete certain tasks or expectations, such as completing a chore or doing their homework, so they earn tokens or points that count towards a reward. Short-term rewards are usually more effective, such as extra computer access or a preferred snack.

4. Behavioral Contracts

These often work better for older children and teens. Involve them in drawing up the rules and the rewards for following through. Establish that you are doing this with your child rather than something you are doing to your child. Keep expectations realistic and focus on a few important things as opposed to everything all at once. It is important to maintain their motivation to keep targets manageable and achievable.

5. Consistency

For anything to truly work and last over time, it needs to be applied consistently. Implementing agreed rules on a daily basis and providing rewards when they are earned is important for establishing positive behavior change.


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