WHAT IS ABA THERAPYApplied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the science of human behavior. It is the scientifically validated approach to understanding how human behavior is affected by the environment.
Research in this area started in the early 1950s with the work of B.F. Skinner (Verbal Behavior, 1957). Thus, ABA is the only therapy with more than 60 years of research demonstrating its various techniques and effectiveness in increasing socially significant behavior, while decreasing disruptive behaviors.
Behavior analysts have successfully implemented different ABA techniques with various populations, environments, and behaviors to support individuals with developmental diagnoses, including but not limited to: Autism, PDD-NOS, Asperger’s, Mental Retardation, Down Syndrome, and related disorders.
Today, ABA is widely recognized as an effective treatment for individuals with autism. Behavior analysts work on different ABA principles and techniques in order to foster basic skills such as requesting, labeling, following instructions, motor and vocal imitation, as well as complex skills such as reading, writing, and conversing.
However, ABA therapy for children with autism is not and should not be approached as a “cookie cutter” method. On the contrary, a successful ABA program is one in which the behavior analyst customizes the intervention to each child’s age, skills, interests, and family goals, as each program is tailored to meet each child’s needs.
In addition, a successful ABA program should do the following:
- Have a behavior analyst who plans and conducts ongoing assessments of skills.
- Skills should target a broad range of areas such as, but not limited to: requests (mands), labels (tacts), following instructions (listener responding), motor and vocal imitation, independent and social play, communication, self-help skills, as well as academic skills.
- Skills targeted should be repeated so that the child comes into contact with several opportunities of each skill throughout the day.
- The child should receive positive reinforcement for demonstrating socially significant behaviors.
- Skills taught should enable the child to perform these skills in various environments, with various people and under different conditions (as our goal is to foster independence, generalization, and maintenance of all skills taught).
- Parents and/or other family members should receive intensive training on the ABA techniques being used in therapy, so that they can apply the same skills at home and/or when the child is not receiving therapy.
Additional information about Applied Behavior Analysis can be found in the following websites:
- Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI): http://www.abainternational.org/
- Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB): http://bacb.com
- Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (JABA): http://seab.envmed.rochester.edu/jaba/