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Autism and the ABA Approach to Target BehaviorResearch Paper

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Scientific Merit of Research

The research study selected for this paper is the subject of autism and the aim of the study is to identify the approach most helpful in moving an autistic child to reach a target objective. The target objective in this case is for the child to obey the commands of his teacher in the classroom. The approaches that are to be tested are based on applied behavior analysis; the first is the pivotal response approach and the second is the structured approach. These two approaches allow two methods to be compared, with the pivotal response approach providing a more naturalistic method and the structured approach applying a more rigid method (Mohammadzaheri, Koegel, Rezaee, Rafiee, 2014). The merit of this study is based on the idea that it will help to determine whether pivotal response treatment or structure applied behavior analysis is better suited to helping autistic children achieve target objectives. The study's merit also rests in its methodological approach, which is based on the observational method as well as interviews to be conducted with the teachers involved in the study. The sample will not be randomized, based on the particular focus; it will be essential to identify children whose behavior target meets the parameters of the study. The study will utilize the hypothesis that the pivotal response treatment approach will be more effective, based on the review of available literature on the subject. Thus, the study will essentially test the findings of prior research to determine their validity, which is further evidence of this study's meritorious nature (Leedy, Ormrod, 2016).

The advancement of knowledge of this study will be based on the concept of confirming what prior studies have found and utilizing this information to advance new concepts about how teachers might approach students with special needs, thus adding to the study's social validity. The advancement of knowledge is particularly noteworthy in this study as it applies to the concept of ABA and how psychological approaches in the classroom may be better utilized to achieve positive objectives. Through the observational method and interview approach, data will be collected and the qualitatively assessed so as to provide a clearer picture and better understanding of how the two psychological approaches to assisting the autistic subject to its target behavior are instrumental in the aim. This understanding in qualitative terms, once provided, can then be used by other teachers in the classroom to help students with similar behavioral problems. The main assessment of how well the study has advanced knowledge is not necessarily on whether the target behaviors are improved but what the study can say about the methods employed and why or why they did not work or were effective. Moreover, there is the question of social validity that remains, which is whether the public will accept the individual methods applied for the good of the child; if the public is unwilling to accept the approaches, then the lack of social value of the study could undercut or undermine the advancement of knowledge sought -- as the knowledge will be essentially impractical and thus have a negative pragmatic value (Rapoff, 2010).

The contributions of theory involved in this study are based on the theoretical approach of applied behavioral analysis. Its roots are in operant conditioning, social learning theory, and radical behaviorism, all of which serve as a foundational theoretical basis for ABA and provide a theoretical framework for the individual aiming to treat the thoughts and behaviors of the subject. The associated theory of behavior modification is also evident in the overall aim. Various researchers are still working in the field to compare ABA methods, which can be further broken down into different strains and/or theoretical concepts and approaches. Callahan and Shukla-Mehta (2010) for example have attempted to use a social validation survey in order to assess the difference between two models of behavioral modification treatment in the classroom, but it is Foxx (2008) who observes that the "the only interventions that have been shown to produce comprehensive, lasting results in autism have been based on the principles of ABA" (p. 821).

The hallmarks of good research are evident in the researcher's ability to create a hypothesis based on sound, academic research; to establish a purpose for the study (an objective of the research with clearly defined parameters that are not being the scope or ability of the researcher); to utilize an appropriate methodology for collecting data and an appropriate analytical framework for assessing it; to provide an organized, coherent and cohesive expression of and discussion of the findings of the study; and to provide recommendations for future research that could build on what the information that the study has provided in its results. The researcher should be as critical of his own work as he is of that of others' so that there is no bias involved in the study, and limitations of the research should be scrutinized and identified so that there is an awareness of where the study could require further development or deepening. The methods of research involved should require good note-taking for the literature review process, as when information on the subject is investigated and used to support the basis of the study, and a strong organizational approach should be utilized to ensure that the research is focused and does not deviate from the stated objective (Leedy, Ormrod, 2016).

Another good way to ensure that research is adequately performed is to use Excel in order to keep track of information and data collected over the process of the literature review (Leedy, Ormrod, 2016, p. 372). Sources can be collected and categorized according to format, such as books, scholarly articles, websites, etc. These categories can then be broken down even more to indicate which sources have internal/external validity and may be used as adequate sources for the study and cited within the study itself, and which do not have the sufficient credentials to be used as supporting evidence within the paper itself. For example, information that comes from a website that is not academic rather than from a scholarly journal that is peer-reviewed is not likely a source that one would wish to use within the study itself. Sources should meet the same criteria that the researcher attempts to maintain within his or her own study.

The validity and reliability of my chosen research study is evident in the following terms of internal, external and social validity. The internal validity of the study will become evident if there is an established connection between a cause and an effect, discernible in the study's findings. For example, if a particular method of the teacher is found to have an impact on the child's behavior, whether positive or negative in terms of improving the child's target behavior, this will provide internal validity for the study. External validity will be evident if the study is found to have a universal application, in the sense that the results can be used to help others develop their own methods of intervention and approaches to helping subjects achieve specific aims. The issues of social validity will be met if the recommended approaches are acceptable to the public and provide evidence of achieving a positive aim connected with the goal of the subject which is his target behavior. The study will have reliability if it can be duplicated by following the means and manner of data collection, with clearly defined parameters and a detailed description of the qualitative constructs used to assess data so as to show how particular findings and conclusions were reached (Leedy, Ormrod, 2016).

Ethical issues in the study will be primarily focused on informed consent and ensuring that the subjects and parents/guardians provide their consent to participating in the study upon being informed of the intentions. Confidentiality will also be ensured by not using names or any identifying characteristics of the subject apart from basic descriptive terms for accurate understanding. Competency will also be an ethical issue that will be addressed as teachers will not be used who are not familiar with the approaches designated for this study. Therefore, a teacher who is not educated in or experienced in ABA approaches will not have the required competency for participation in this study, as it would be a violation of the standard of ethics proposed by the American Counseling Association (2014), which states that competency is a core ethical standard that all instructors should adhere to. This also stretches into the area of not withholding effective help to anyone based on cultural conditions.

In conclusion, this study will focus on examining two methods of helping an autistic child to meet a target behavior, and the data collection process will come by way of classroom observation and interviews conducted with the participating teachers. The assessment will be qualitative so as to provide a deeper and better understanding of the approaches that can be utilized to treat behavior, and the goal will be for the study to have social validity as… [END OF PREVIEW]

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