What is ABA?

Behavior Analysis is an evidence based methodology derived from the science of behaviorism. It looks at the “why” behind behaviors and offers principles to be applied to teach socially important behaviors and replace detrimental and/or dangerous behaviors. It is important to recognize that in order for a practitioner to be utilizing ABA, they must be maintaining data and utilizing that data to update the interventions. Applied Behavior Analysis based interventions must include the following seven dimensions:

  • Applied: The intervention targets behaviors that are socially significant.
  • Behavioral: The target behaviors are observable and measurable.
  • Conceptually Systematic: The intervention is consistent with principles demonstrated through peer-reviewed literature
  • Technological: The procedures are clearly and concisely described so that they may be implemented accurately by others.
  • Analytic: The decisions to implement, update, or change procedures are based on data
    Effective: Each intervention is monitored in order to evaluate the impact of the target behavior.
  • Generality: Interventions include measures to ensure that target behaviors occur across people, settings, time, and materials.

In practice, it is common for a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) to complete a Functional Assessment and develop a behavior plan or curriculum that Behavior Technicians implement under consistent supervision of the BCBA or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA). Behavior Technicians are required to have specific education, experience, and/or training hours. Additionally, the BCBA should be reviewing the data to ensure that the client is receiving accurate programming and updates.

Benefits of ABA

Applied Behavior Analysis has been proven with over 40 years of peer reviewed research as an effective tool for teaching individuals with Autism or other developmental or behavioral delays. It has been endorsed by a number of state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Surgeon General and the New York State Department of Health.

Sally Rogers of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center created “Brief Report: Early Intervention in Autism.” Her paper reviewed previously published studies regarding the outcomes of early interventions with children with autism. The findings show that all the studies reported “(a) significant acceleration of developmental rates, resulting in significant IQ gains; (b) significant language gains in the treated children; (c) improved social behavior and decreased symptoms of autism.” Additionally, the gains were generally made within 1-2 years of intensive preschool intervention, the majority of the target students gained successful language, and the gains made were lasting effects according to the longitudinal studies over years. *

Although the majority of studies published show the significant gains that preschool aged children make with ABA based early intervention, there are other studies that offer success stories with older children and adults. Included in the benefits for older children and adults are increased social skills, decreased echolalia, increased appropriate responses to questions, increased receptive language skills, among many others. **

*Rogers, Sally J. (1996, April). Brief report: Early intervention in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Retrieve from Springer Link.

**Noriega, G. (2002, Sep 6). ABA for children over six, adolescents, and adults: Survey of supporting literature. Retrieve from Verbal Behavior-pbworks.