Applied Behavior Analysis

ABA stands for Applied Behavior Analysis


Northstar Achievements is dedicated to providing effective research based behavior analytic services by Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA’s) to children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental disabilities. We strive to create a partnership with Colorado Springs & Monument, CO families in which children gain the skills they need to participate in their communities to the fullest extent possible and with the greatest degree of independence.

It is our belief that the needs of the children we serve can be best met through a partnership with their family and other professionals in their lives. We create individual goals and apply best practices to provide effective treatment for each child. Our treatment methodology includes a variety of Applied Behavior Analysis Principles such as Verbal Behavior, discrete trials training and incidental training.

Domains of emphasis in our Early Intervention Program are: language, executive functioning skills, motor skills, social skills, and adaptive skills. The entire treatment team (including parents, grandparents, siblings, caregivers) are invited to contribute to goal selection, reviewing progress, and training in new techniques.
Our professionals collaborate to create the best possible environment for learning and growth.


Some therapies based on ABA principles which are utilized by Northstar Achievements:

Verbal Behavior (VB)

Verbal Behavior (VB) is a structured, intensive one-to-one therapy. It differs from discrete trial training in that it is designed to motivate a child to learn language by developing a connection between a word and its meaning. For some children, teaching a word or label needs to include a deliberate focus on teaching them how to use their words functionally (E.g. What is this? A cup. What do you use a cup for? Drinking.What do you drink out of? A cup.)

Discrete Trial Training (DTT)

Discrete Trial Training (DTT) is based on the understanding that practice helps a child master a skill. It is a structured therapy that uses a one-to-one teaching method and involves intensive learning of specific behaviors. This intensive learning of a specific behavior is called a “drill.” Drills help learning because they involve repetition. The child completes a task many times in the same manner (usually 5 or more). This repetition is especially important for children who may need a great deal of practice to master a skill. Repetition also helps to strengthen long-term memory. Specific behaviors) are broken down into their simplest forms, and then systematically prompted or guided. Children receive positive reinforcement (for example: high-fives, verbal praise, and tokens that can be exchanged for toys) for producing these behaviors. For example, a therapist and a child are seated at a table and the therapist prompts the child to pay attention to her by saying “look at me.” The child looks up at the therapist and the therapist rewards the child with a high-five.

Incidental or Natural Environment Training (NET)

Incidental or Natural Environment Training (NET) is based on the understanding that it is important to give real-life meaning to skills a child is learning. It includes a focus on teaching skills in settings where your child will naturally use them. Using a child’s natural everyday environment in therapy can help increase the transfer of skills to everyday situations and helps generalization. In Incidental Teaching, the teacher or therapist utilizes naturally occurring opportunities in order to help the child learn language. The activity or situation is chosen by the child, and the caregiver or teacher follows the child’s lead or interest. These teaching strategies were developed to facilitate generalization and maximize reinforcement. Once naturally occurring situations in which a child expresses interest are identified, the instructor then uses graduated prompts to encourage responses from the child. For example, a child is playing on the swings and needs the therapist to push him so that he can swing higher. The therapist waits on the child to ask for a push. Only after the child asks does the therapist push the swing. The therapist waits for the child to ask each time before he/she pushes the child again.

Pivotal Response Training (PRT)

Pivotal Response Training (PRT) is a naturalistic, loosely structured, intervention that relies on naturally occurring teaching opportunities and consequences. The focus of PRT is to increase motivation by adding components such as turn-taking, reinforcing attempts, child-choice, and interspersing maintenance (pre-learned) tasks. It takes the focus off of areas of deficits and redirects attention to certain pivotal areas that are viewed as key for a wide range of functioning in children. Four pivotal areas have been identified: (a) motivation, (b) child self-initiations, (c) self management, and (d) responsiveness to multiple cues. It is believed that when these areas are promoted, they produce improvements in many of the non-targeted behaviors.

Natural Language Paradigm (NLP)

Natural Language Paradigm (NLP) is based on the understanding that learning can be helped by deliberate arrangement of the environment in order to increase opportunities to use language. NLP emphasizes the child’s initiative. It uses natural reinforcers that are consequences related directly to the behavior, and it encourages skill generalization. For example, a child who is allowed to leave after being prompted to say “goodbye” has a greater likelihood of using and generalizing this word when compared with a child who receives a tangible item for repeating this word. NLP transfers instruction from the therapy room to the child’s everyday environment with the interest of the child serving as the starting point for interventions.