What is S Delta in ABA?

Alex Williams
12 Min Read

Understanding the behavior of a human being is truly hard. A lot goes behind the actions and reactions of a human being. There are a lot of stimuli that evoke reactions from you. Are you aware of any such stimuli? Do you know what is Stimulus Delta? What is S Delta in ABA? If not, then you should learn about all these things in this article. You will read the important facts about human behavior here.

1. What is the Stimulus Delta?

A stimulus in presence of which a particular response will not be reinforced is defined as a stimulus delta. Suppose, there are some cards on a table and the teacher tells you to point at a card with A and you point at a card without A. In this case, no reinforcement will be delivered. Let’s take another example of washing your hands, if you want to wash your hands with cold water but open the hot water tap then your response will not lead to the delivery of reinforcements.

Now that you have learned about the stimulus delta, it’s time to explain the difference between SD and S Delta and what is S delta in ABA. (See Uses of EMDR for Anxiety Reduction)

2. What is the Difference between SD and S Delta?

People are often confused about SD and S Delta in spite of these two being completely opposite. The difference between SD and S Delta is that SD stands for Discriminative Stimulus and S Delta stands for Stimulus Delta. A Discriminative Stimulus conveys that a reinforcer is available for a response whereas a Stimulus Delta conveys that a reinforcer is not available for the response.

For example, a child always gets to eat more candy when his grandma visits but he doesn’t get to eat more candy when she doesn’t visit. So, grandma visiting is a Discriminative Stimulus (SD) that controls the child’s candy-eating behavior. Now let’s understand S Delta with an example, suppose you tell a child to touch his nose but he touches his ears then no reinforcement is provided. Touch your nose is an S Delta here. Since you have understood the difference between SD and S Delta, you should learn about what is S Delta in ABA. Must read about internal vs external locus of control.

3. What is S Delta in ABA?

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A stimulus in presence of which the behavior is not reinforced is called S Delta. During discrimination training, animals initially respond in the presence of stimuli similar to the SD but eventually, this type of response is extinguished. These similar stimuli are S Deltas.

For example, suppose June, an ABA therapist is working with Lisa, a 4-year-old girl. June brings an iPad with a dead battery for the session. When Lisa asks for the iPad, June shows Lisa that the iPad’s battery is dead. Lisa stops asking. The iPad here is an S Delta for Lisa asking for the iPad because it signals that the iPad is not available as a reinforcer. With this, you must have understood what is S Delta in ABA. (See Significance of CBT Anger Management Therapy)

4. What is an S Delta in Behavior?

After learning what is S Delta in ABA, let’s explore the nature of S Delta in behavior. In this environment, the stimulus which signifies the non-availability of reinforcement is called S Delta. For example, you need to use the lift but there is an out-of-order sign on it. This signal the non-availability of the lift (negative reinforcement). Must read the Importance of Child Behavioral Psychologist.

5. What is an SD in ABA?

As you know what is S Delta in ABA and its behavior, let’s learn about the work of an SD in ABA. If your kid has autism you may have heard out your kid’s ABA specialists using terms like SD. This term can confuse a lot of people. An SD stands for Discriminative Stimulus. It’s a stimulus in presence of which a particular response is reinforced.

Imagine a scenario where a specialist is showing a child four cards with pictures of four different fruits. If the specialist asks the child to point at the card with the banana and the child points at the card with the banana, then he will get positive reinforcement from the ABA therapist, such as saying- well done. In this example, it is the SD banana card.

If the child incorrectly selects the mango card, he will not receive positive reinforcement from the therapist. Here the therapist is looking for one correct answer among 3 incorrect answers. After learning this let’s move forward and understand the 7 dimensions of ABA. (See What is Personalization Cognitive Distortion?)

6. What are the 7 Dimensions of ABA?

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ABA stands for Applied Behaviour Analysis. It is a behavior therapy established in the science of learning and behavior. It is a helpful tool for clinicians as well as parents to understand the working of a child’s atypical behavior, how a child’s environment affects his/her atypical behavior, how a child learns new things, etc. Any good board-certified behavior analyst incorporates 7 key areas into their client’s treatment plan. Must see What is Narcissistic Rage Silent Treatment?

These 7 key areas are the 7 dimensions of ABA. The dimensions are as follows: 

  • Generality: The behavior goal should be achieved in such a way that even long after the therapy has ended the client is able to maintain the learned behavior.
  • Effective: All interventions in ABA therapy must be effective at producing practical changes in the behavior of the client. In case the current interventions are not effective then reevaluation is needed to form new interventions.
  • Technological: The analysts should clearly identify and describe all the interventions being used. The interventions are to be written clearly so that anyone reading the treatment plan can understand the goals of the treatment. It will help in the effective implementation of the interventions.
  • Applied: This dimension concerns itself with the types of problems that are covered in the treatment plan as well it tells how quickly they can be applied to the individual’s life.
  • Conceptually Systematic: It makes sure that each intervention being used is in accordance with the greater conceptual goal of the ABA treatment.
  • Analytical: An ABA treatment plan is analytical as it utilizes data to make treatment decisions. All through the treatment process, the behavioral therapists collect data about a client’s responses to the interventions being used. The data shows the effectiveness of the interventions.
  • Behavioral: It concerns itself with pragmatic behavioral change. The analysts look into specific behavior, try to predict how certain interventions will affect this behavior, and also try to identify areas of improvement. If the desired behavioral changes are not produced by the intervention the analysts try to reanalyze the intervention to find out what is not working. In hope of achieving the desired behavior changes the interventions are further adjusted.

7. What is a Stimulus Class ABA?

As you are aware of what is S Delta in ABA and the dimensions of ABA, let’s learn about the stimulus class ABA. A stimulus class is a group of stimuli that are similar along one or more dimensions. These stimuli can have a common effect on behavior, they sound or look similar, or in relation to the response, they occur at similar times.

Let’s take an example of stimulus class in a clinical context, an ABA specialist is teaching a kid called Jon about colors. The specialist shows Jon four color crayons red, green, yellow, and blue. The specialist asks Jon to answer what are these and he says they are colors, even though they are different colors. (See Do you have the Rescuer Syndrome?)

8. Why is Stimulus Control Important in ABA?

Stimulus control is used to define a situation where the presence or absence of certain stimuli triggers a behavior. Stimulus control is very important in ABA as it helps in the development of discrimination skills that are necessary for daily interactions. Check out the 14 Reasons Why I Like To Be Alone.

9. What is a Stimulus Discrimination Example?

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The ability to distinguish one stimulus from other similar stimuli is called stimulus discrimination. It is used in both operant and classical conditioning. Let’s understand stimulus discrimination with this example. Your dog is able to distinguish between the sound of you opening a packet of chips and you opening a bag of dog treats. It is a case of stimulus discrimination seen in dogs. (See Which is an Internal Influence on Physical Activity?)

10. What is the Difference Between a Stimulus and a Response Prompt?

In discrimination training, prompts are delivered when teaching new responses. They establish stimulus control. In order to evoke a correct response, a stimulus prompt makes the stimulus stand out more whereas a response prompt acts on the learner’s response. The three major forms of stimulus prompts are position, redundancy, and movement. On the other hand, the three major forms of response prompts are modeling, physical guidance, and verbal instructions. (Also read Different Types of BPD)

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