What Is Applied Behavior Analysis?


Applying proven behavioral principles to the routine activities of daily life, the therapeutic process of applied behavior analysis (ABA), is used to either encourage or discourage a targeted behavior or set of behaviors. Examples of skills ABA has been effective in teaching or improving include social skills, language development and self-care activities. The approach also works well to eradicate unwanted behaviors like self-harm, aggressive outbursts and repetitive self-stimulation. ABA can be utilized with various populations, as long as there is a behavior in need of changing, but it is used most frequently in the treatment of autism. Keep reading to discover more about ABA and the ways it can be most effectively used.


About ABA

Objective data through the observation of client responses is used to determine whether a specific strategy is effective. If the data shows that a treatment method is not serving an individual, another resource will be employed. While nearly any behavior can be targeted for change through ABA, it is socially significant behaviors that are most often the target of applied behavior analysis. Such behaviors are ones that impact the client’s life with regard to interaction with others and include academics, communication, personal self-care and domestic duties among others.

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How Much Is Enough

Families often want to know how long to expect much treatment with ABA will be needed in order to change behaviors. There is no magic formula, as each client and their needs are unique. It has been shown, however, that the techniques of ABA should be incorporated into the daily family routine and become a habit in order to be effective. In the treatment of autism, it’s likely that at least 25 hours of ABA per week for approximately a year should be expected before seeing success in behavior modification. Families must learn the components of an ABA program, along with correct application. It is necessary to maintain consistency in all aspects of the child’s life if ABA is to be effective.

Parental Role in ABA

Parental participation in a child’s work with ABA is absolutely essential. When parents take an active role in guiding their child through the principles of their treatment plan, the child frequently shows tremendous progress toward making change. Families know their child and can help to report the ways in which programs may need to be modified. In addition, children spend a significant portion of their day at home. During this time, if the family is implementing the strategies of ABA and helping to provide prompting or redirection, the child will receive consistent practice and reinforcement. This participation and insight can make behavioral treatment program so much more successful.

These are some of the basic foundations of ABA. It is important to work with a trained practitioner whose philosophy is in line with your own and to be sure all members of the family, school staff and other individuals of importance in the child’s life are on the same page. Applied behavior analysis, when implemented consistently and professionally, can be incredibly effective in reinforcing or eradicating targeted behaviors.