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What is Applied Behavior Analysis?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a therapy based on the science of learning and behavior.

ABA therapy applies our understanding of how behavior works to real situations. The goal is to increase behaviors that are helpful and decrease behaviors that are harmful or affect learning.

Behavior analysis
helps us to understand

  • How behavior works
  • How behavior is affected by the environment
  • How learning takes place

ABA therapy
programs can help

  • Increase language and communication skills
  • Improve attention, focus, social skills, memory, and academics
  • Decrease problem behaviors

What We Do

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a method of therapy used to improve or change specific behaviors. In simple terms, ABA changes the environment in order to change one person’s behavior. It is not only used to reduce inappropriate behavior. While we often think of the word “behavior” as meaning “bad” or “inappropriate” behavior, that is not always the case. In reference to ABA therapy, behavior is what we do and how we act. ABA therapy is used to improve behaviors like social skills, reading, academics, and communication as well as learned skills, such as hair brushing, improving hygiene, fine motor dexterity, job proficiency and even simple things like a child keeping his room clean.

ABA provides methodologies, based on positive reinforcement, to teach skills across a student’s day both at school and at home. ABA uses positive reinforcement to replace one type of behavior with a more appropriate behavior. ABA uses many different methods to teach children including task analysis, discrete trials, incidental learning, and other proven curricula that best suit the individual student’s learning style.

Data are taken throughout the day to ensure effective programming and ineffective interventions are revised quickly to ensure continued progress. Skills are taught systematically across therapists and settings to ensure the child is able to engage in and maintain a skill with multiple people and in natural environments.

Evidence-based psychosocial interventions, such as behavioral treatment and parent skills training programs, can reduce difficulties in communication and social behavior. Additionally, they have a positive impact on wellbeing and quality of life for persons with autism and their caregivers.

What is the evidence that ABA works?

ABA is considered an evidence-based best practice treatment by the US Surgeon General and by the American Psychological Association.

“Evidence based” means that ABA has passed scientific tests of its usefulness, quality, and effectiveness. ABA therapy includes many different techniques. All of these techniques focus on antecedents (what happens before a behavior occurs) and on consequences (what happens after the behavior).

More than 20 studies have established that intensive and long-term therapy using ABA principles improves outcomes for many but not all children with autism. “Intensive” and “long term” refer to programs that provide 25 to 40 hours a week of therapy for 1 to 3 years. These studies show gains in intellectual functioning, language development, daily living skills and social functioning. Studies with adults, though fewer in number, show similar benefits.

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