Ep. 46: How ABA Can Help Kids Naturalistically Learn Skills with Nicole Ballinghoff

Sep 7, 2021 | 0 comments

Applied Behavioral Science, or ABA, has been a hot topic for the last few years and has become somewhat controversial. To help us understand it better, I’ve invited Nicole Ballinghoff to the Diverse Thinking Different Learning Podcast today. 

Nicole Ballinghoff has over 15 years experience and is passionate about ABA. She has seen firsthand the impact it has made on the lives of individuals with autism and their families. While most of the clients she works with are on the autism spectrum, she explains today that ABA isn’t just for those with autism. In addition to her work with ABA, Nicole also has experience in the classroom and as a speaker both nationally and internationally.


With her expertise and guidance, Nicole explains how ABA has evolved through the years, the different approaches in the field, and what quality ABA really looks like. She will help us dispel some common myths and may even help you determine if ABA is right for your child and family.


Show Notes:

[2:18] – People define treatments in different ways.

[3:05] – ABA is based on the science of learning and behavior. Nicole explains how each behavior is broken down and used in therapy.

[4:18] – ABA uses reinforcement to strengthen skills or teach new skills.

[5:07] – The science has evolved over time. Nicole and Karen discuss what it looked like in its infancy in the 1960s.

[6:24] – There are a lot of different styles of teaching. Nicole describes some different approaches.

[7:09] – What is Nicole’s style at Kyo?

[8:47] – During the school year, a lot of families are reluctant to add on services, but Nicole clarifies that ABA can be implemented in day to day life as support.

[10:39] – The family-centered approach has proven to make a big difference.

[11:51] – Covid forced creativity and Nicole says she was present for distance learning sessions if that was what was important for the child and family.

[13:19] – Changing the child is not the goal. The goal is to give children the tools they need to be the best version of themselves.

[14:59] – There is a difference between what is important to the family and what is considered important by society.

[16:31] – If a behavior does not harm a child or their safety, Nicole explains how it can be serving in internal function for the time being and may not need to be addressed.

[19:12] – Who does ABA serve? It is used for many settings, not just those with autism.

[21:29] – ABA providers are usually covered by insurance.

[22:44] – ABA is not just helpful for children. Nicole also works with teens and adults.

[24:48] – Nicole shares a story of an older child she worked with and how building a relationship is crucial.

[26:56] – Collaborating with the child is important as well because some children will know what they want to work on.

[29:38] – Nicole and Karen discuss being realistic to be effective and something that the family can implement.


About Our Guest:

Nicole Ballinghoff, M.Ed., BCBA has been part of the Kyo team since 2017 and has been working in the field for over 15 years. She is passionate about ABA and how it can improve the lives of individuals with autism and their families. She has worked in school, home, and community settings. Nicole has experience training staff, developing individualized interventions and creating classroom adaptations and modifications. Nicole has presented at the state, national and international levels on Using iPads in the Classroom, Differential Reinforcement, Video Modeling, and Stimulus Control. In her free time, Nicole enjoys spending time outdoors with her family. 

Connect with Nicole Ballinghoff:

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The Diverse Thinking Different Learning podcast is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or legal advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, the views and opinions expressed by the host and guests are not considered treatment and do not necessarily reflect those of ChildNEXUS, Inc or the host, Dr. Karen Wilson.