Applied Behavioral Analysis
Behavior analysis focuses on the principles that explain how learning takes place. Positive reinforcement is one such principle. When a behavior is followed by some sort of reward, the behavior is more likely to be repeated. Through decades of research, the field of behavior analysis has developed many techniques for increasing useful behaviors and reducing those that may cause harm or interfere with learning.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the use of these techniques and principles to bring about meaningful and positive change in behavior.
As mentioned, behavior analysts began working with young children with autism and related disorders in the 1960s. Early techniques often involved adults directing most of the instruction. Some allowed the child to take the lead. Since that time, a wide variety of ABA techniques have been developed for building useful skills in learners with autism – from toddlers through adulthood.
These techniques can be used in structured environments such as a classroom lesson, as well as in "everyday" situations like family dinnertime or the neighborhood playground. Some ABA therapy sessions involve one-on-one interaction between the behavior analyst and the participant. Group instruction can likewise prove useful.
ABA is an intensive, behaviorally-based treatment that uses various techniques to bring about meaningful and positive changes in the communication, social interaction, and repetitive/ restrictive behaviors that are typical of ASD. Each child will have an individualized Intervention Plan that breaks down desired skills into manageable steps to be taught. Each ABA Plan is designed for the individualize needs of the child and includes an average of five to 25 hours of direct interventions per week depending on medical necessity. These services are intensive and can be provided either in the home or in a clinic setting. ABA interventions involve parent/ guardian training and participation.