Designing a Therapeutic App with ABA Principles

Photo by Mia Baker on Unsplash

By Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

bSci21Media, LLC

DrOmnibus, the Polish ABA tech firm, and member of Google’s LaunchPad Accelerator program, is heading to the ABAI Autism Conference in Miami as we speak.  In the days leading up to the conference, we had a chance to discuss how the company continues to develop its ABA DrOmnibus app and associated algorithms, to ensure parents, children, and therapists, get the most out of their ABA experience.  Below is a conversation with Wojciech Bieronski, Head of Research and Development for DrOmnibus, about where the app is headed.

Over the last two years, DrOmnibus implemented sets of ABA teaching trials into a digital app. The areas covered included basic teaching of skills (e.g. colors, shapes) and generalizing skills. The software allows users to perform the trials on tablets, with or without the therapist, based on the embedded algorithms.

DrOmnibus’ goal has always been to support ABA therapy. “We are realistic and we’ve never thought that the software should replace therapists. It should aid them” – Wojciech Bieronski, Head of Research & Development at DrOmnibus points out. “And when you see the effects of research like, for example, Connie Kasari’s, you realize how potentially big this support is”.

Connie Kasari is a Professor at The University of California, Los Angeles. Her study on how technology enhances communication for minimally-verbal children showed that children who were treated with behavioral intervention and with the iPad, made significantly faster progress in learning to communicate.

“I think that the amount of studies like this will grow and they will all show what we intuitively know. The tablets and screens are so fun for the kids, that they can play a major role in boosting the motivational factor in therapy and education, hence improving the effectiveness” – adds Wojciech Bieronski.

The possibility of performing teaching trials on a tablet is also an interesting topic from the perspective of therapy at home. It is a primary place where the child exists and if their therapy is managed in the clinic, the time at home is usually spent on things other than the behavioral intervention. The way DrOmnibus thinks is that this space could also be enhanced with some forms of ABA support.

Bieronski adds: “We should not forget about children on waiting lists. Sometimes it lasts for months. If during these crucial months, when there is simply no ABA therapist available, an app could help the child to progress with some really important skills, isn’t that something we should really explore?”.

In DrOmnibus, research on the app has been continuous over the past two years. The main focus has been on the implementation of algorithms based on ABA principles, such as correct prompting and reinforcing. “You could say that those two years were spent putting in the necessary legwork. It was focused on things that just had to be done in order to make ABA app work”.

Now the fun part begins. DrOmnibus plans to redesign the current ABA systems in the tool and enhance teaching in the app. “The first thing we will change is the baseline pre-test. We are aware this part of our tool is currently not that good and we’ve spent a lot of effort over last months to address its issues. The improvement is going to be major”.

Also, the flow of teaching skills is going to be improved. Instead of selecting one of the dozens of games, the user will select the skill area (e.g colors), and the app will guide them through several “chapters” of teaching this skill, beginning from measuring baseline, through DTT, generalization to fluency. DrOmnibus believes that the app shouldn’t teach only to acquisition but it should teach up to fluency.

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All trials will be graphed with the principles of ABA data collection. Consequently, the BCBA will be able to teach with the app and automatically get a report which can be used for documentation. The new data collection features will include the cumulative graphs for the skill, individual graphs for every skill (e.g. particular colors or emotions) and analysis of each trial (e.g. how many prompts, what kind of prompts).

Bieroński adds: “In DrOmnibus we adopted a rule that we develop a new feature in our tool only if it meets one of the two following criteria (and preferably both). It must save BCBAs time or it must increase effectiveness of their therapy. ABA graphing has always been one of those things that would benefit enormously if it could be done even a tiny bit faster. This is why we focused on it”

The upcoming ABA DrOmnibus app release will be one of the biggest in the history of the company. It will introduce full ABA graphing to the app, as well as will include major redesign of baseline and ABA systems. The app update is planned for late Ferburary/early March.

DrOmnibus will be showing their software at the ABAI Autism Conference in Miami, Florida on the 4-6th of February.

Meet us there, at booth #19 or find out more about ABADrOmnibus Pro.

Wojciech Bieroński is a Psychologist, and Head of Research & Development at DrOmnibus. An expert in video game psychology, he explores the fields of software technologies used in educational and medical setting.  Be sure to connect with Wojciech via LinkedIn to keep up with his work.

 

 

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which owns the top behavior analytic media outlet in the world, bSci21.org.  bSci21Media aims to disseminate behavior analysis to the world and to support ABA companies around the globe through the Behavioral Science in the 21st Century blog and its subsidiaries, bSciEntrepreneurial, bSciWebDesign, bSciWriting, bSciStudios and the ABA Outside the Box CEU series.  Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar.  He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues.  Dr. Ward has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Dr. Ward is passionate about disseminating behavior analysis to the world and growing the field through entrepreneurship. Todd can be reached at todd.ward@bsci21.org

*Paid content by DrOmnibus.

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