Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, is a type of therapy that uses variations of scientifically proven treatments to shape behavior.
These behaviors can range from excesses, deficits and problem behaviors to functional living skills. ABA is based on the principle that manipulating stimuli in the environment can change a behavior.
Simply stated, ABA therapy employs different methods and techniques to help individuals acquire certain skills, like language or functional living skills and to decrease certain skills that may be harmful or inappropriate, like self-injurious behavior or self-stimulatory behavior.
Many different methods and techniques work for increasing or decreasing many different types of behavior. By collecting data, we’re able to see which techniques are successful and which are not.
One of the most important principles of ABA is understanding and identifying the function of a behavior. Whether a person is seeking to escape a situation, attention, access to something or to self-stimulate, we can implement a technique to increase the appropriate behavior or decrease the problem behavior.
As a theory, ABA can sound confusing and full of words that we don’t use in our daily life. Here’s an example of how ABA can be used to increase and decrease behaviors.
While Tina is talking on the phone, her daughter Anna begins to cry. When Tina gets off the phone, Anna stops crying. When Tina gets back on the phone, Anna cries again. Here, we can see that Anna’s function of behavior is attention seeking, but she is not requesting attention appropriately. ABA principles would have Tina withhold her attention (so as to not positively reinforce the problem behavior of crying) until Anna is calm. Then, she would ask Anna to ask for Tina’s attention before the problem behavior occurs. Tina would need to immediately give her attention to Anna when she requests it, so she positively reinforces the appropriate behavior.
This simple example shows one of the ways that we are able to manipulate different stimuli in a person’s environment to help shape behaviors.
We’ve seen the success that these techniques and principles have had in our clients’ lives. We believe in ABA and the freedom that this type of therapy gives for an individual, personalized program – different for each child because each child is different.
Interested in learning more about ABA therapy? Check out the links below.
ABA Resources: What is ABA? – Center for Autism
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) – Autism Speaks
How is Autism Treated? – From the 100 Day Kit, Autism Speaks
Getting to Know ABA – Applied Behavioral Strategies