What Is ABA Therapy?

ABA stands for Applied Behavior Analysis. It is the scientific study of behavior and mainly focuses on ideologies that explain how learning takes place. The purpose of using therapy practice and principles is to bring about significant and positive change in behavior. Behavior analysts work with young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as well as other disorders such as severe destructive behavior, substance abuse, dementia and traumatic brain injuries. Some of the methods used allow the child to take the lead, but the majority of ABA therapy involves the therapist directing the session. However, ABA therapy does not have a universal approach. ABA therapy is great because of how versatile it can be for each child. There have been thousands of research studies that document the success of ABA across a wide range including various settings that may include schools, homes, and hospitals. There’s also a wide array of populations such as children and adults with developmental disabilities and learning disorders, and different behaviors like language, social, academic and functional life skills.

ABA aids with increasing behaviors such as reinforcement techniques, on-task behavior, and social interactions. These behavioral improvements are accomplished by breaking them down into sections of Discriminative Stimulus (SD), Response (R), and Reinforcing Stimulus (SR). The goal is to delve into what motivates the individual while then working on adjusting specific behaviors. Over a period of time, appropriate behaviors will then increase and inappropriate behaviors will decrease. The ABA principles foster basic skills a child needs to master such as looking, imitating words and sounds, listening and understanding other people’s perspectives while conversing. These techniques can be used in controlled situations like in classroom lessons in addition to normal routines like getting ready in the morning or preparing for dinner.

There are many ways therapy sessions can happen including one on one interaction as well as a group interaction. A typical session would be an energetic interaction between individual and therapist. There would be a great deal of positive reinforcement including hugs, high fives or simple praise. Participating in ABA therapy for 2 or more years at an early age may help develop skills that allow children to partake in a regular classroom with little to no additional support. The behavior analyst frequently meets with the family to go over set goals and to check the child’s progress, while adjusting those goals as necessary to ensure that the learner is meeting the goals and making great strides. Overall, ABA therapy can prepare someone to be his or her own advocate. All individuals, regardless of disorder, deserve an opportunity to learn, become more independent and confident.