Applied Behavior Analysis

  • Is a science; it is not a “therapy” or “service” for children with autism. Over the past 40 years thousands of experimental research studies have proven the effectiveness of utilizing applied behavior analysis principles to alter any person’s behavior.
  • Is a data-driven science. On-going data is collected to continually monitor the effects and alter the current intervention as needed. This is the only way to determine true progress when changing behavior.
  • Looks at the function of a behavior. For example, two children could engage in the same behavior such as throwing their dinner on the floor for completely different purposes. One child could have engaged in the behavior to communicate that he was done with his meal while the other child was attempting to get his mother’s attention. The behavior analyst would examine the purposes of the targeted behaviors to determine the appropriate intervention.
  • Uses operational definitions of observable and measurable behaviors. A behavior analyst would not record that a child was “mad.” Instead they would state exactly what behaviors were observed. For example, the child hit both fists on his desk three times while simultaneously closing both of his eyes.
  • Addresses any type of behaviors. It can used to increase the frequency of desired behaviors (i.e., initiating a greeting), decrease the occurrence of inappropriate behaviors (i.e., aggression towards others) and teach new skills (both simple and complex).
  • Must be appropriately supervised by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). According to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board ABA services can only ethically by offered by a BCBA or someone under the direct supervision of a BCBA. Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBA) must also be under the supervision of a BCBA.
  • Not only for children with autism. Applied behavior analysis is the study of human behavior. The principles of ABA operate continually throughout our lives without people even being aware of them.
  • Is not a cure for autism. Currently there is no known cure for autism, but applied behavior analysis is the only proven science to help improve the lives of people diagnosed on the autism spectrum.