What is ABA Therapy?
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a science of human behavior founded by B.F. Skinner over 70 years ago. The field of ABA uses a variety of techniques to increase appropriate behaviors and decrease interfering behaviors. ABA has been successful with many learners of all ages, with and without disabilities, and has been recognized as a safe treatment.
An ABA program is a systematic teaching approach that involves breaking skills down into small, easy-to-learn steps. Praise or other rewards are used to motivate the child, multiple opportunities are provided to practice each skill, and progress is continuously measured to challenge the child. ABA programs are specifically developed and designed to meet the developmental needs of each child.
ABA is used to support persons with autism in at least six ways:
- to increase desired behaviors such as appropriate social interactions or on-task behavior
- to teach new skills such as communication, social skills, or functional life skills
- to maintain behaviors such as teaching self-control or self-monitoring
- to generalize or to transfer behavior from one situation to another such as completing assignments in a resource room to performing the same task in a mainstreamed classroom
- to limit conditions under which interfering behaviors occur by modifying the learning environment, and
- to reduce interfering behaviors such as screaming or self-injurious behaviors.
An ABA program involves:
- Breaking down skills to their smallest manageable units and eventually expanding into more meaningful and complex units.
- Using procedures such as reinforcement, extinction, shaping, prompting, fading, chaining, discrimination, and generalization to teach skills.
- Skills taught may include: mands, tacts, intraverbals, receptive language, social skills, matching programs, motor imitation, play skills, or self care skills.
ABA is the most widely used intervention to treat children with autism. Today, there are thousands of published research studies documenting the effectiveness of ABA and validating this treatment. ABA focuses on treating behavioral difficulties and producing socially significant improvement in human behavior.