Bringing ABA Into Your Inclusive Classroom: A Guide to Improving Outcomes for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Article Type:
Book review
Books (Book reviews)
Ferry, Sarah
Pub Date:
Name: Education & Treatment of Children Publisher: West Virginia University Press, University of West Virginia Audience: Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Education; Family and marriage; Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 West Virginia University Press, University of West Virginia ISSN: 0748-8491
Date: May, 2011 Source Volume: 34 Source Issue: 2
NamedWork: Bringing ABA Into Your Inclusive Classroom: A Guide to Improving Outcomes for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Nonfiction work)
Reviewee: Leach, Debra

Accession Number:
Full Text:
Leach, D. (2010). Bringing ABA Into Your Inclusive Classroom: A Guide to Improving Outcomes for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes. $29.95.

How can general education teachers create a successful inclusive environment for a student with autism that makes sense for everyone? What makes applied behavior analysis (ABA) the most effective intervention for children with autism, and how can it be applied in a general education classroom? Debra Leach's new book, Bringing ABA into Your Inclusive Classroom: A Guide to Improving Outcomes for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, answers these questions thoroughly and concisely in a fully-stocked tool belt of applied behavior analysis. Called "a blueprint for quick and painless ABA" (back cover), this book introduces the principles of ABA in only seven manageable, well-illustrated chapters.

Though presented as a guide for general education teachers looking for ways to improve the success of a student with autism in their classroom, the book is also an insightful guide for students, professionals, paraprofessionals, and parents. Leach uses clear, jargon-free language and employs frequent use of charts and practical examples that make this book accessible to a variety of audiences. The book includes chapters outlining characteristics of autism and ABA principles, as well as a study guide, suggested resources, and ready-to-use teaching plans, assessment outlines, and data collection templates.

In the introduction, Debra Leach addresses her hope that this book will help to bring ABA out of the one-on-one setting and introduce the interventions in the general education classroom. By doing so, Leach believes students will generalize the skills they learn and have the ability to "enhance their active participation in general education classrooms" (p. 2). The chapters take a clear, step-by-step approach to understanding ABA. Concepts are clearly introduced and supported by examples and tables which help to clarify the information presented. The author begins with an overview of Autism Spectrum Disorder and the inclusive classroom, followed by an introduction to ABA principles, history, and practices. The chapters take the reader through successfully implementing assessments, goal-setting, interventions, data collection and analysis.

Chapter one, entitled "Students with Autism in General Education Classrooms," begins with an overview of Autism Spectrum Disorder. The author covers characteristics involving social interaction, impairments in communication, restricted interests, and repetitive behaviors. She then provides clear examples of behaviors and characteristics, and how each behavior serves a function for children with ASD. The author covers extensively in this chapter the "benefits and barriers of including students with ASD in general education classrooms." According to the author, not only are children with autism benefitting from peer interaction and opportunities for developing communication skills, but typically-developing students also benefit from the practices and strategies used for students with autism. The chapter continues on to discuss the best practices for inclusion and how to appropriately collaborate with professionals and paraprofessionals. Successful collaboration between teachers, related service professionals, and paraprofessionals is a topic that Leach continues to emphasize throughout the text.

The next chapter "Understanding ABA" goes over a brief but comprehensive overview of the history of behaviorism and ABA. The author covers each of the seven dimensions of ABA and includes a table that breaks down each dimension into a concise definition. Leach uses this pattern of tell-show-example in most of the concepts covered in the book. This allows each concept to be reinforced in several different ways, so that nothing must be continually re-read in order to comprehend any one idea. For example, when discussing generality, there is a paragraph explaining the dimension's definition and details. The chart provided of the seven dimensions briefly explains generality in one sentence as, "the skills learned can be maintained over time and utilized across different settings and contexts"(p. 14). The author then further explains generality through the use of a fictional example, the story of Brian, a 5-year-old boy who learned when someone said "hello" he responded with "hello" followed by the person's name. Brian was not able to generalize this skill when a stranger, whose name he did not know, greeted him. When greeted by the stranger, Brian responded with "hello" followed by the color of the person's shirt. The author goes on to explain that highly specific expectations are not an appropriate skill for someone like Brian to learn, because they are not applicable under a variety of settings.

Following the introduction into ABA, chapter two covers its applications. Leach provides brief descriptions of Discrete Trial Training, Pivotal Response Training, Incidental Teaching, and Applied Verbal Behavior. Again the author uses fictional dialogues to illustrate the methods and provides references to empirical studies for each application. For example, Leach indicates that The Behavior Analyst Today (Kates-McElrath & Axelrod, 2006) will further explain the differences between Discrete Trial Training and Applied Verbal Behavior (page 22). Though the author provides the references, she warns that the various interventions use curriculum guides that may not necessarily be the appropriate tool to use in an inclusive setting. Leach explains that in the inclusive classroom the general education teacher cannot mimic the ABA applications as they are practiced outside of the general education classroom. She goes on to suggest the use of ABA "without having to select one specific teaching method" (p. 22). The author states that by using the seven dimensions of ABA, general education teachers can create a learning plan that works for the inclusive classroom:

This book provides teachers with a method of implementing ABA in general education classrooms by presenting ways to select goals (applied); write objectives (behavioral); collect baseline and intervention data (analytic); develop clear, explicit teaching procedures that use behavioral strategies that have been shown to be effective (conceptual and technological); analyze the data to make instructional decision (effective); and ensure that the students learn how to use the acquired skills across a variety of situations and contexts (generality) (p. 22).

In chapters three through seven, Leach goes step-by-step through this process, taking the reader from assessment to data analysis.

Chapter three covers a variety of non-formal assessment procedures that can be easily implemented in the classroom. Leach strongly points out that IEPs and ABA procedures should go hand-in-hand in the general education classroom. According to the author, assessing the different needs of students with ASD is critical to their learning. The author provides step-by-step instructions on how to conduct parent and professional interviews, preference assessments, performance assessments, and behavior assessments. Along with each explanation, Leach provides an example of every assessment form discussed. In the appendix, the reader can also find blank forms for practical use.

After addressing the importance of assessment to the development of appropriate goals, the next chapter provides the tools needed to create these goals. Leach begins with the importance of collaborative goal setting. She emphasizes the importance of collaboration between all those involved with a student. Everyone, including parents, must be involved in creating goals that work for each individual student. According to the author, the assessments should provide those working with each student the information they need to set realistic goals, and also meet the priorities of the parents and teachers. Through the use of examples and non-examples, Leach goes over how to create functional, developmentally appropriate, observable, measurable, mastered, and positively stated goals.

The development of ABA teaching procedures and data collection/analysis is covered in chapters five and six. Leach provides examples of how to use 17 different ABA procedures and again uses a variety of insets (charts, examples, etc.) to clarify how the interventions work. Though the descriptions are very short and give only a brief overview of each intervention, they provide a good framework for teachers to begin their understanding of how to approach each procedure. In the chapter summary, Leach emphasizes the importance of clarity when creating interventions, so that each procedure is implemented in the same way by all teachers. The author then provides a very thorough description of data collection procedures. She emphasizes the importance of data collection and the thorough analysis of that data, as a crucial element in the student's progress. In order to present data collection as a less daunting and obtrusive task, Leach provides simple methods of data collection and examples of each method. As with the assessment forms, blank data sheets like the ones used in the chapter are available in the appendix for practice and use.

In the final chapter, Leach offers a clear review of how all the concepts and practices discussed are practically combined, and how they can be implemented in the inclusive setting. The final chapter also includes a subsection on the roles that teachers, related service professionals, paraprofessionals, and parents have in the implementation of these methods. These suggestions for team member roles are provided as a framework, but the author is sure to note that individual strengths and weaknesses of any team member should be taken into consideration when developing strategies for collaboration. In closing, the book offers over 72 pages of resources, including a study guide, extensive sample teaching plans, and blank forms.

While this book provides a sound overview of applied behavior analysis, general education teachers should use Leach's book as an introduction on how to successfully bring ABA into their classroom. Teachers should be encouraged to expand their knowledge by reading about various ABA strategies that they feel would be particularly useful in their classroom. By talking to other professionals, watching example videos of various ABA interventions, and exploring more detailed research studies, teachers can continue to expand their knowledge on ABA. The more knowledge that general education teachers are able to gain on the proper use of procedures, the more successful ABA will be in their classroom.

This book offers general education teachers a useful and comprehensive guide to using ABA in their classroom. Leach addresses the many misconceptions surrounding ABA and how it "should be" used. In doing so, she provides teachers an opportunity to set aside their hesitations, and learn more about how they can benefit from an inclusive ABA classroom. By providing the resources for further research, this book can act as a stepping stone for teachers to begin their journey in ABA.

Reviewed by Sarah Ferry, University of Pittsburgh
Gale Copyright:
Copyright 2011 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.