Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a systematic approach to bringing about meaningful, socially significant changes in a child’s behavior through the application of various principles of learning. Through the use of evidence-based practices, ABA seeks to increase a child’s positive behaviors, while decreasing any challenging behaviors that may impede a child’s ability to learn and make progress. ABA targets various skill areas, including communication skills, social skills, cognition, and adaptive skills. Throughout the course of an ABA program, the clinician will record and analyze data on an ongoing basis to track progress and modify interventions as needed.
While ABA therapy is a structured approach, each child’s goals, behavior plans, and teaching methods are highly individualized to meet their unique needs and to help them reach their fullest potential. This means that ABA sessions, treatment plans, and behavioral interventions will look different for every child.
One important tool used to assist in increasing a learner’s positive behaviors is the principle of positive reinforcement. In utilizing positive reinforcement, positive behaviors are followed by some sort of reward, which increases the likelihood that these behaviors will continue to occur in the future. It is important that these rewards are motivating for the child.
Through years of research, the field of ABA has developed many different techniques and teaching strategies to help increase socially significant skills while decreasing challenging behaviors. Some of these techniques may include one-on-one structured therapy sessions, while others may be more child-led. These techniques and strategies can also be utilized in many different settings, from the clinic, to the home, to community settings.
ABA is recognized as an effective, and safe, method for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), and has been endorsed by a number of agencies, including the U.S. Surgeon General, the American Psychological Association, and the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. A number of studies have shown that ABA is an evidence-based practice that can help to build a variety of skills for those with ASD while decreasing their challenging behaviors.