An introduction to Generalization


Definition of Generalization in Applied Behavior Analysis: behavior lasts over time, across different environments, people and different behaviors.

All of the skills we are teaching need to be generalized and maintained over time by the natural environment.  What’s the point of a skill if they can only do it at a table with staff?  Each individual student’s programming will be different BUT for all students, our goal is to ensure on-going maintenance.

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  1. Use different materials. This may be from the start of teaching or gradually introduced but it is essential that a variety of materials are used.
  2. Use different SD’s (discriminative stimuli – what you say). In real life people vary their language/phrases when speaking. We need to in our teaching as well. E.g. “Touch blue” – Show me, point to, give me, find are some variations of the SD.
  3. Work in different areas/rooms. Don’t always sit at a table. Move into different rooms in the house.
  4. Across people! Direct staff, consultants and generalize ALL skills to the family. Ask them to sit in on the session and target some of the acquired skills.
  5. Think about real life applications of the skills and practice in those contexts. Teaching colors? Play in games, ask while using Legos, etc.
  6. Maintenance – gradually fade your practice to less frequent. Can they still demonstrate the skill?

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