What is PEAK?

PEAK stands for Promoting the Emergence of Advanced Knowledge and involves teaching skills in a way that helps learners generalise and learn skills that they haven’t been taught as a result more easily. It is a curriculum that enables individuals to gain skills for free (without teaching) because of the way in which the teaching is mixed and combined, enabling learners to start using their own taught skills and strategies in order to learn new skills. It’s is really the true definition of teaching ‘learn to learn’ skills and it helps with promoting independence.

Who is PEAK suitable for?

PEAK is suitable for children aged 2 years up to 17 years of age.

How does PEAK assess skills?

PEAK assessments are divided into full assessments and pre-assessments that will thoroughly cover different skill areas. Full assessments are indirect assessments we complete by looking at a full list of skills and selecting skills we have seen our learners perform. It also contains quick pre-assessments that we can use to back our findings and more consistently pinpoint strengths and areas where our learners need support. Pre-assessments are direct assessments where we test skills with the learner on a one to one basis and observe them in the moment during sessions.

PEAK offers a range of programmes that cater for language acquisition needs and cover aspects of language that include:

  • Foundational learning skills (e.g. requests for what one wants, imitation, listening to instructions)
  • Perceptual learning skills (e.g. identifying and matching objects)
  • Verbal comprehension skills (e.g. answering questions)
  • Verbal reasoning (e.g. when told a situation, how the student would respond), Memory (this includes pre-requisites for remembering past events) and Maths skills (e.g. working with quantity, numbers and money).

As the curriculum moves from an early to a more advanced stage, it becomes complex and language skills become more sophisticated. Learnt skills are combined and generalized, transformed (for example the concept of ‘red’ can mean stop, as in a woman shouting ‘stop’ at the airport, her voice being heard for the first time in that context, it has never been tested and wasn’t part of teaching before; it can also mean that you may not have access to a certain item) and then combined with new skills.

How does PEAK teach skills?

PEAK works in teaching skills by combining skills so that learners do not focus on certain skills in isolation. Instead of focusing on teaching programmes within a certain area intensively e.g. listener responding, PEAK will mix different developmental areas (e.g. matching, then listener responding, followed by labeling) to enable learners to learn skills with more flexibility and then correlate these skills more easily, as one would if they were learning language more naturally.

PEAK teaches aspects of languages that may not be included in some of the other ABA based curriculum such as inferencing skills (reasoning given situations), perspective taking (putting one self in another person’s shoes) and advanced language comprehension skills within Maths and Reading. It also ensures that skills learnt are generalized so that they can be performed in different settings, across different people and that they are maintained across time as skills are built on top of skills.

Is there any evidence that PEAK works and helps individuals progress in development?

  • PEAK is evidence based, which means that studies have been published within the PEAK lab demonstrating its efficacy.
  • More evidence of the efficiency of PEAK as a curriculum can be found in the PEAK ABA website: 

How are PEAK programmes run and which setting is best?

PEAK programmes can be adapted to whatever type of programme you run. For example, they can work in home programmes that focus on teaching skills via play (as it can start from two years of age) or early learners that are older and are focusing on acquiring social and functional skills.

PEAK programmes can be taught in one to one sessions in schools, home and also in ABA specific clinics.

How do you report progress on PEAK programmes?

Following assessments, the results are scored and marked on the overall assessment triangle with a specific colour. Subsequent assessments are given different colour so that progress can be highlighted.

A report is then written highlighting areas where progress was made and explaining results in a reader friendly manner.

Below is an example of a scored assessment (colours in the triangle represent each date an assessment took place). Pre-assessment results are scored via the grid on the right and areas of need are highlighted:

How can I ensure that the person doing assessments and recommending PEAK programmes is appropriately trained?

PEAK ABA provides training across the USA and different countries. In order to perform assessments, write reports on results and recommend PEAK programmes, ensure your practitioner has had training from the actual suppliers, rather than second hand training in PEAK.

Written by Roni Dunning, BCBA
Applied Behaviour Analysis Consultant

Everyone Deserves to Flourish.

Blossom ABA believes that everyone has the right to access the most effective interventions to cater for their language and learning needs, to enable them to achieve their full potential and a good quality of life.

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Based in Cardiff, Wales