What is ABA?

ABA stands for Applied Behavior Analysis; it is the science of learning and behavior. ABA is based on the principles of learning theory and uses a process of systematically applying interventions to teach new skills and to decrease behavioral challenges.

ABA is an evidence based, meaning that it’s principles have been researched and scientifically proven to be effective and useful. ABA is considered best practice for the treatment of autism spectrum disorders by the Surgeon General, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association.

The ABCs of behavior analysis include:

  1. Antecedent: the antecedent is what happens just prior to the behavior occurring.
    1. Mom says, “it’s time for bed” and the child begins to scream and runs away.
    2. The school bell rings and the children stop playing and line up at the door.
  2. Behavior: the specifics of the behavior—what occurs that is observable and measurable.
  3. Consequence: What happens immediately following the behavior
    1. Reinforcement: consequences that increase the likelihood that a behavior will occur in the future. Reinforcement increases the behavior it follows.
    2. Punishment: consequences that decrease the likelihood that a behavior will occur in the future. Punishment decreases the behavior it follows.
    3. Extinction: the absence of consequences for a behavior. When reinforcement is no longer provided the behavior will gradually stop occurring

ABA also looks at one’s environment to understand an individual’s behavior. How we behavior at work or school may be very different from how we behave at home. Environmental factors have a strong influence on behavior—changing the environment can significantly change behavior.