What is Applied Behavior Analysis?

Having an autistic child means that you may be continually trying to understand your child’s behavior and learn how to work with it.  Applied Behavior Analysis is a scientifically validated approach to understanding those behaviors and how those behaviors are affected by the environment.

According to Autism Speaks, behavior analysis focuses on the principles that explain how learning takes place. Positive reinforcement is one such principle. When a behavior is followed by some sort of reward, the behavior is more likely to be repeated. Through decades of research, the field of behavior analysis has developed many techniques for increasing useful behaviors and reducing those that may cause harm or interfere with learning.

Autism Speaks points to recent studies that demonstrate that ABA techniques can produce improvements in communication, social relationships, play, self care, school and employment. These studies involved age groups ranging from preschoolers to adults. Results for all age groups showed that ABA increased participation in family and community activities. This program is very individualistic. Effective ABA intervention for autism is not a “one size fits all” approach and should never be viewed as a “canned” set of programs or drills. On the contrary, a skilled therapist customizes the intervention to each learner’s skills, needs, interests, preferences and family situation. For these reasons, an ABA program for one learner will look different than a program for another learner.  See our link to studies about Applied Behavior Analysis.