Aspire Living & Learning serves neurodiverse adults and children in their homes, schools, and communities. We embrace and support the diversity of human experience and identity.
When we utilize the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), it is to support each person to develop a life of their own choosing, on their own terms. Aspire strives to promote the best use of this effective applied science across the spectrum of neurodiversity.
Aspire recognizes that some practitioners of ABA have at times employed intrusive methods to accomplish goals that were chosen by someone other than the person. This has caused harm. Harm occurred even when the intervention has been technically sound because of a failure to attend to the person’s lived experience.
Aspire is committed to continuously improving our practice and recognizing the power of those we serve. We must examine how we can best follow the lead of the person. We must always ask the hard questions about the purpose of what we do. Creating and ensuring physical and emotional safety is an essential priority.
To ensure that the practice of Applied Behavior Analysis meets our commitments, we will act as learners alongside those we serve. We affirm the following principles adapted from Dr. Greg Hanley’s paper, A Perspective on Today’s ABA, 2021.
Learn by listening. We will always start by asking questions and listening to the answers. We will ask the person, and those who know and love them, what is important to them, what they like, what they dislike, and how they communicate.
Learn by creating joy. Based on what the person has told us, we will help them create an environment where they feel happy, relaxed, and engaged, and where they will feel safe and in control. We will help when asked, respond to all communication, and support engagement on their terms. We will show the person that we know them, we see them, we hear them, and we are there for them.
Learn by empowering. When the person needs to participate in a context that is important to their development and that may be challenging, we will clearly and kindly communicate this through normal actions and words. We will ensure that the environment is safe. If the person shows signs of distress we will acknowledge that communication and honor their request, whether verbal or nonverbal. The person will be in control and can trust us to honor that control.
Learn while teaching. We will introduce skills that empower the person: play/leisure skills, communication, tolerance, and cooperation. The pace and aims of teaching will be continually informed by the feedback provided by the person, by both what they say and what they do. Teaching will occur when the person is relaxed, happy, and engaged and will stop when they are upset.
Be trauma-informed. People served by behavior analysts have often experienced multiple adverse events. By following the principles above to build and maintain trust while supporting the person to remain happy, relaxed, and engaged, applied behavior analysis can be trauma-informed.