What is ABA?

April 19, 2016

ABA is the acronym for Applied Behavior Analysis. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the use of  techniques and principles such as to bring about meaningful and positive change in behavior. Let’s take a closer look at what this is and how it may impact your child in a positive manner.

What is ABA? Applied behavior analysis is the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree, and to demonstrate that the interventions employed are responsible for the improvement in behavior (Baer, Wolf & Risley, 1968; Sulzer-Azaroff & Mayer, 1991).

How can ABA help your child? ABA methods are used to support persons with autism in at least six ways:

  • to increase behaviors (reinforcement procedures increase on-task behavior, or social interactions);
  • to teach new skills (systematic instruction and reinforcement procedures teach functional life skills, communication skills, or social skills);
  • to maintain behaviors (teaching self control and self-monitoring procedures to maintain and generalize job-related social skills);
  • to generalize or to transfer behavior from one situation or response to another (from completing assignments in the resource room to performing as well in the mainstream classroom);
  • to restrict or narrow conditions under which interfering behaviors occur
  • to reduce interfering behaviors (self injury)

What does Research say about ABA? A number of completed studies have demonstrated 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. (Read More)

What kind of Improvement or Progress can you expect to see with ABA? While children and parents can see meaningful changes over the course of many years, keep in mind that this therapy does not work overnight. Some learners do acquire skills quickly. But typically, this rapid progress happens in just one or two particular skill areas such as reading, while much more instruction and practice is needed to master another skill area such as interacting with peers.