Behavior Skills Training In ABA Therapy

Behavior Skills Training, also known as BST, is a structured and evidence-based instructional approach used in ABA therapy.

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Ruben Kesherim
November 1, 2023

Behavior Skills Training In ABA Therapy

Understanding Behavior Skills Training

In the world of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, Behavior Skills Training (BST) plays a vital role in helping individuals with autism develop and acquire new skills. This section will delve into what behavior skills training is and why it holds significant importance in ABA therapy.

What is Behavior Skills Training?

Behavior Skills Training, also known as BST, is a structured and evidence-based instructional approach used in ABA therapy. It involves a systematic and sequential process that teaches individuals specific skills through a combination of instruction, modeling, rehearsal, and feedback. BST is designed to enhance learning and promote the acquisition of behavior skills in a structured and supportive environment.

By breaking down complex skills into smaller, more manageable steps, BST provides individuals with opportunities to learn and practice new behaviors effectively. This approach can be applied across various areas, including communication, social skills, self-care, and academic tasks. Through BST, individuals with autism can develop essential life skills that improve their overall independence and quality of life.

The Importance of Behavior Skills Training in ABA Therapy

Behavior Skills Training holds immense importance in the field of ABA therapy. It provides a systematic framework for teaching individuals with autism specific skills that are necessary for daily functioning and social interactions. Here are some key reasons why Behavior Skills Training is highly valued in ABA therapy:

  1. Effective Skill Acquisition: BST focuses on breaking down skills into small, achievable steps, making it easier for individuals to learn and practice. The structured approach of BST ensures that individuals have the necessary support and guidance to acquire new skills successfully.
  2. Generalization of Skills: BST emphasizes the generalization of skills across different environments and individuals. By practicing skills in various settings and with different people, individuals with autism can apply what they have learned in real-life situations, promoting greater independence and functional abilities.
  3. Individualized Instruction: BST allows for individualized instruction tailored to meet the unique needs and abilities of each person. ABA therapists can customize the training to target specific areas of improvement and work at a pace that suits the individual's learning style.
  4. Data-Driven Assessment: BST relies on data collection and ongoing assessment to monitor progress and make necessary adjustments to the training program. This data-driven approach ensures that interventions are evidence-based and effective, leading to positive outcomes for individuals with autism.

Behavior Skills Training is just one aspect of the comprehensive ABA therapy programs available.

The Components of Behavior Skills Training

To effectively implement behavior skills training in ABA therapy, several key components are utilized. These components work together to teach and reinforce new skills, ensuring individuals with autism can acquire and generalize them to various settings. The main components of behavior skills training include instruction, modeling, rehearsal, and feedback.


The first component of behavior skills training is instruction. During this phase, the ABA therapist provides clear and concise explanations of the target skill or behavior. They break down the skill into smaller, manageable steps, making it easier for individuals with autism to understand and learn.

Clear and structured instructions are essential to guide individuals through the learning process. Instructions should be delivered in a manner that is easily understood and tailored to the individual's unique communication style. The therapist may use visual aids, verbal prompts, or written instructions, depending on the individual's needs and preferences.


Modeling is a crucial component of behavior skills training that involves demonstrating the desired behavior or skill for the individual to observe. The ABA therapist or a peer may act as a model, showcasing the correct way to perform the skill. This visual demonstration helps individuals with autism better understand the expected behavior and provides a reference for them to mimic.

Modeling can be particularly effective when individuals have difficulty understanding verbal instructions or have strong visual learning preferences. By observing the model, individuals can gain a better understanding of the behavior and how it should be executed.


The next component of behavior skills training is rehearsal. During this phase, individuals have the opportunity to practice the target behavior or skill themselves. The ABA therapist provides guidance and support as needed, helping individuals apply what they have learned from the instruction and modeling phases.

Rehearsal involves active participation and repetition. Individuals are encouraged to practice the skill multiple times to strengthen their understanding and ability to perform it independently. The therapist may gradually reduce prompts and cues as individuals demonstrate progress and gain confidence in their abilities.


Feedback is a crucial component of behavior skills training that provides individuals with information about their performance and progress. Following each rehearsal, the ABA therapist offers feedback to individuals, highlighting what they did correctly and areas for improvement.

Constructive feedback helps individuals understand how well they are performing the target skill and provides guidance for making adjustments. Positive reinforcement, such as praise or rewards, may also be given to motivate individuals and reinforce their efforts.

By combining instruction, modeling, rehearsal, and feedback, behavior skills training aims to facilitate the acquisition and generalization of new skills for individuals with autism. This systematic approach helps individuals build a solid foundation, enabling them to apply these skills in various settings and situations.

The Journey of Behavior Skills Training

Behavior Skills Training (BST) is a structured and effective approach used in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy to teach individuals new skills and promote positive behaviors. The journey of behavior skills training involves several important steps, including identifying target behaviors, setting goals and objectives, implementing behavior skills training, and monitoring and assessing progress.

Identifying Target Behaviors

The first step in the journey of behavior skills training is to identify the specific target behaviors that the individual needs to learn or improve. These behaviors are typically determined through assessments and observations conducted by ABA therapists. By identifying target behaviors, therapists can focus on addressing specific areas of need and developing appropriate interventions.

Setting Goals and Objectives

Once the target behaviors are identified, the next step is to set clear and measurable goals and objectives. These goals provide a roadmap for behavior change and guide the behavior skills training process. Goals should be specific, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. For example, if the target behavior is improving communication skills, a goal could be for the individual to initiate a conversation with a peer at least three times during a play session within three months.

Implementing Behavior Skills Training

After setting goals and objectives, behavior skills training is implemented to teach and reinforce the desired behaviors. This typically involves a series of structured sessions where the individual receives instruction, modeling, rehearsal, and feedback. During instruction, therapists explain and demonstrate the desired behavior.

Modeling involves showing the individual how to perform the behavior correctly. Rehearsal provides opportunities for the individual to practice the behavior in a controlled setting. Feedback is provided to reinforce correct responses and provide guidance for improvement.

Monitoring and Assessing Progress

Throughout the journey of behavior skills training, it is essential to monitor and assess the individual's progress. This helps to ensure that the intervention is effective and adjustments can be made if needed.

ABA therapists use various techniques, such as direct observation, data collection, and standardized assessments, to measure progress. By analyzing data and evaluating the individual's performance, therapists can determine if the goals and objectives are being met and make informed decisions regarding the continuation or modification of the behavior skills training program.

By following the journey of behavior skills training, individuals with autism can acquire new skills, develop positive behaviors, and improve their overall quality of life. The process of identifying target behaviors, setting goals and objectives, implementing behavior skills training, and monitoring progress is instrumental in promoting meaningful and lasting behavior change.

Challenges and Triumphs

Throughout the journey of behavior skills training, individuals may encounter various challenges. However, with perseverance and the right support, these challenges can be overcome, leading to remarkable triumphs. Let's explore the common challenges in behavior skills training, strategies for overcoming them, and the impact of behavior skills training on individuals with autism.

Common Challenges in Behavior Skills Training

Behavior skills training involves teaching individuals with autism new skills and behaviors. While this process is highly effective, it is not without its challenges. Some common challenges include:

  1. Resistance to Change: Individuals with autism may initially resist changes to their routines or struggle with adapting to new behaviors.
  2. Generalization: Ensuring that newly learned skills are generalized across different settings, people, and situations can be challenging. It requires consistent practice and reinforcement to promote skill transfer.
  3. Maintaining Motivation: Sustaining motivation and engagement throughout the behavior skills training process can be difficult for some individuals. Finding effective strategies to keep them motivated is essential.
  4. Addressing Individual Needs: Each individual with autism is unique, with different learning styles and preferences. Tailoring behavior skills training to meet their specific needs may present challenges but is crucial for success.

Overcoming Challenges and Celebrating Success

While challenges may arise, there are strategies that can help individuals overcome them and celebrate their successes:

  1. Individualized Approach: Customizing behavior skills training programs to address the unique needs, interests, and strengths of each individual can increase engagement and motivation.
  2. Positive Reinforcement: Using positive reinforcement techniques, such as praise, rewards, and tokens, can help motivate individuals and reinforce desired behaviors.
  3. Consistency and Repetition: Consistently practicing and reinforcing skills in various settings helps promote generalization and long-term retention.
  4. Collaboration and Support: Collaboration between therapists, parents, and caregivers is essential. Regular communication and sharing of strategies can help address challenges and provide a supportive network.

The Impact of Behavior Skills Training on Individuals with Autism

Behavior skills training has a profound impact on individuals with autism. By equipping them with essential skills, it enhances their ability to navigate daily life, improves social interactions, and fosters independence. The benefits of behavior skills training include:

  1. Improvement in Functional Skills: Behavior skills training helps individuals acquire and refine a wide range of functional skills, such as communication, self-care, and social skills.
  2. Reduction in Challenging Behaviors: By teaching alternative behaviors and providing strategies to manage challenging behaviors, behavior skills training can lead to a reduction in disruptive or harmful behaviors.
  3. Enhancement of Quality of Life: Through increased independence and improved social interactions, behavior skills training contributes to a higher quality of life for individuals with autism.

Behavior skills training, when implemented with care and expertise, has the potential to transform the lives of individuals with autism. It provides them with the tools they need to overcome challenges, celebrate their successes, and reach their full potential.

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The Role of Parents and Caregivers

Parents and caregivers play a crucial role in the success of behavior skills training (BST). Their involvement and support are essential in reinforcing the skills learned during therapy sessions. In this section, we will explore the importance of parental involvement, supporting and reinforcing skills at home, and the significance of collaboration with ABA therapists.

Parental Involvement in Behavior Skills Training

Parental involvement is a key component of effective behavior skills training. When parents actively participate in their child's therapy, they become an integral part of the learning process. By observing and engaging in therapy sessions, parents gain insight into the techniques and strategies used by ABA therapists. This understanding allows them to reinforce the same skills at home, creating a consistent learning environment for the child.

ABA therapists work closely with parents, providing guidance and support throughout the journey of behavior skills training. They educate parents on the principles of ABA therapy and teach them techniques to effectively address their child's individual needs. This collaboration empowers parents to play an active role in their child's progress and helps generalize the learned skills beyond the therapy setting.

Supporting and Reinforcing Skills at Home

Consistency is key when it comes to behavior skills training. Parents and caregivers can support and reinforce the skills learned during therapy sessions by incorporating them into daily routines at home. By creating an environment that promotes skill development, parents can help their child generalize those skills to real-life situations.

Implementing strategies like visual schedules, social stories, and positive reinforcement techniques can enhance the effectiveness of behavior skills training at home. These strategies provide structure, clarity, and motivation for the child to practice and apply the learned skills in various contexts. It's important for parents to communicate and collaborate with ABA therapists to ensure that the strategies used in therapy are reinforced consistently at home.

Collaboration with ABA Therapists

Collaboration between parents and ABA therapists is essential for the success of behavior skills training. ABA therapists work closely with parents to develop individualized treatment plans and set specific goals for their child's progress. Regular communication and feedback sessions allow parents and therapists to discuss challenges, share observations, and make necessary adjustments to the treatment plan.

ABA therapists provide parents with guidance on implementing strategies and techniques that align with the goals of behavior skills training. They may suggest specific interventions or activities for parents to practice with their child at home. This collaboration ensures that the child receives consistent support and reinforcement, both in therapy and at home.

By actively participating in behavior skills training and collaborating with ABA therapists, parents and caregivers become an integral part of their child's progress. Their involvement not only reinforces the skills learned during therapy but also extends the benefits of behavior skills training beyond the therapy sessions. Together, parents and therapists create a nurturing and empowering environment that promotes the growth and development of the child with autism.