Our Program

As an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program, FirstSteps will utilize behavior analytic principles, such as modifications of antecedents and consequences, to teach your child new skills and reduce behavior challenges.

Generally speaking, your child’s behaviors (remember, behavior means everything a person does) may be sorted into 3 categories, which serve as a starting point for intervention:

Appropriate Skills

A skill or behavior is considered “appropriate” if it is within the range of those exhibited by same-age peers. This is often referred to as “age-appropriate.” Appropriate behaviors already in your child’s repertoire will not be a target of intervention.

Deficient Skills

A skill or behavior is considered “deficient” if it is below the range of those exhibited by same-age peers. This is often referred to as a “deficit.” Deficient skills become targets in Instructional Programs.

Excessive Behaviors

A skill or behavior is considered “excessive” if it occurs above the range of those exhibited by same-age peers. Behavioral excesses are often referred to as “problem” or “challenging” behaviors. Excessive behaviors become targets in Reductive Procedures.

Assessment & Identification Of Targets

For our children, such as those with developmental delays, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), academic difficulties, and behavioral disruptions, there are a variety of skills which may be considered deficient, and a variety of common behavioral excesses.

Deficits Excesses
Language & Communication Non-Compliance
Play Skills Tantrum Behavior
Social Skills Aggression
Motor Skills Self-Injury
Self-Care & Adaptive Behavior Stereotypy
Perspective Taking & “Theory of Mind” Rigidity / Rituals
“Executive Functions”
Attention & School Skills

Once your child’s unique repertoire of appropriate skills, deficits, and excesses is identified, an individualized treatment plan will be developed for your child, consisting of 2 main areas:

The FirstSteps Early Intervention Program

Intructional Programs

Specialized programs will be implemented to teach your child new skills, with a focus on remediation of skill deficits and development of age-appropriate skills.

Instructional Targets & Curriculum

While each child’s program is unique and driven by individual deficits and excesses, Instructional Targets are generally selected from several target areas, beginning with the earliest skills to emerge in typical development, and working up in appropriate developmental order. As you can see below, the Instructional Program targets are similar to the commonly observed skills deficits described previously. Instructional Programs are implemented to remediate skill deficits.

FSFK's Intstructional Programs

Learning to Learn

Generally the initial skills targeted in a child’s program, these include variety of pivotal learning skills that are the foundation skills for more advanced instructional programs.

  • Motor and Vocal Imitation
  • Eye Contact
  • Compliance with Simple Instructions and Following Directions
  • Sitting and Attention Skills

Language & Communication

Communicative targets follow a verbal behavior model, and focus on independence in communication of one’s needs, wants, and ideas.

  • Echoic Training
  • Mand Training_Receptive Language / Manded Behavior
  • Expressive Language / Tact Training_Intraverbal Training
  • Pragmatics and Conversation Skills

Motor Skills

Working in conjunction with other specialized service providers (such as Occupational Therapists), Fine Motor and Gross Motor Skills are strengthened, with particular care placed on selecting targets that will directly lead to improved self-care and socialization. Example Instructional Targets include:

  • Finger and Hand Strength
  • Walking and Balance
  • Running and Chasing
  • Ball Skills

Play Skills

A vital part of childhood and socialization with peers, great care is taken to establish a rich repertoire of play skills. Example Instructional Targets include:

  • Independent toy manipulation and toy-governed behavior
  • Pretend Play with Functional / Life-Like Objects
  • Symbolic and Constructive Play
  • Imaginary and Sociodramatic Play
  • Gross Motor Play and Games with Rules

Social Skills

Social norms and behaviors are introduced and rehearsed through a variety of structured and incidental means. Example Instructional Targets include:

  • Social Play
    • Imitation of Peers
    • Associative and Cooperative Play
    • Joining and Initiating Play
  • Responding to Social Cues
  • Following Rules / Establishing Rule-Governed Behavior
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Conflict Resolution

Self-Care and Daily Living Skills

Based on individual need, essential skills are taught to foster independence in daily living. Example Instructional Targets include:

  • Toileting Skills
  • Feeding Skills
  • Undressing and Dressing Skills
  • Grooming Skills
  • Safety Awareness

Perspective Taking & “Theory of Mind”

Particular emphasis is placed on not just identifying others' perspectives, but applying practical skills to social interactions in the natural environment. Example Instructional Targets include:

  • Emotions and Desires
  • Knowing
  • Preferences and Individual Differences
  • Intentions and Deception

“Executive Functioning” Skills

Increased independence is established via training in goal-directed behaviors and self-monitoring, including:

  • Working Memory
  • Inhibitory Control
  • Flexibility
  • Planning and Goal Setting
  • Problem Solving
  • Self-Regulation

Academic Skills

Working in collaboration with your child's educators, FirstSteps develops programs to bolster academic skills or can put systems in place to ensure your child performs to his / her highest potential in the classroom. Example Instructional Programs include:

  • Letter and Number Awareness
  • Phonemic Awareness
  • Counting and Quantitative Concepts
  • Reading
  • Oral Language and Reading Comprehension
  • Mathematics
  • Writing Skills

Reductive Procedures

Behavior Intervention Plans will be implemented so as to reduce the frequency, duration, or intensity of challenging behaviors, with a focus on decelerating behavioral excesses to age-appropriate levels.

Teaching Procedures

At FirstSteps, behavior analytic procedures are used to expand every child's repertoire of functional, appropriate skills, as well as decelerate challenging behaviors.

Being an ABA provider, our teaching procedures will utilize the A-B-Cs of behavior.

The ABCs of Behavior

In other words, regardless of the specific procedure used, all teaching programs will utilize various Antecedent presentations to evoke Behaviors that will be followed by some Consequence. New and appropriate skills that we want to increase will be followed by preferred consequences to increase the frequency of those skills being used in the future.

Clients benefit from a variety of well-researched teaching procedures based on the principles of learning, such as Discrete Trial Training (DTT) and Natural Environment Training (NET).

DTT, including defined stimuli and responses, preferred reinforcers, and prompting and prompt-fading strategies, enables us to systematically employ the A-B-Cs of behavior to teach your child an infinite variety of skills and behaviors.

NET and incidental teaching are effective methods also utilized at FirstSteps. These approaches are particularly useful when teaching language from a functional, or verbal behavior, approach. For example, NET and incidental teaching procedures are utilized when teaching a child functional communication, such as requesting what one wants, because these procedures capture the child's motivation.