What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)?
Applied Behavior Analysis is a scientific approach to understanding behavior, how it is affected by the environment and how learning takes place. It is a mixture of psychological and educational techniques tailored to meet the needs of each individual. ABA methods are used to measure behavior, teach functional skills, and evaluate progress. Various techniques have been developed over the years for increasing constructive behaviors and reducing those that may be harmful or that interfere with learning. Applied Behavior Analysis encompasses using those techniques and principles to discourage socially inappropriate or problematic behaviors and replacing them with more acceptable ones.
How does ABA benefit those with autism?
ABA techniques have been proven to be one of the most effective methods of treating the behaviors of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ABA uses a variety of approaches to find a way of motivating the child/individual and ensuring that the sessions are both enjoyable and productive. ABA programs can prove extremely beneficial in teaching or improving an individual’s:
- Eye Contact
- Social Skills
- Peer Interactions
- Behavioral Issues
It has also been shown to improve the skills necessary to stay on task and encourages the desire to learn. Most individuals with autism can benefit from intensive ABA programs because even if an individual does not achieve the “best result,” it generally improves normal functioning levels in most areas.
What does ABA intervention involve?
Effective ABA intervention is not a “one size fits all” approach. Each intervention is customized to each learner’s skills, needs, interests, preferences and family situation. For these reasons no two ABA programs will look the same. Although Quality ABA programs for learners with autism will have the following in common:
Goals emphasize skills that will enable learners to become independent and successful in both the short and long terms.
The intervention involves ongoing objective measurement of the learner’s progress.
The instruction plan breaks down desired skills into manageable steps to be taught from the simple to the more complex.
Treatment goals and instruction are developmentally appropriate and target a broad range of skill areas.
The analyst meets regularly with family members and program staff to plan ahead, review progress and make adjustments as needed.
The behavior analyst frequently reviews information on the learner’s progress and uses this to adjust procedures and goals as needed.
Who Is qualified to provide ABA intervention?
Always check credentials of those who claim to be qualified in behavior analysis. For example, for licensed clinical psychologists, you should inquire about the level of training in behavioral interventions for autism, including training in applied behavior analysis. For behavior analysts, you should determine whether the person has been credentialed with the Behavior Analyst Certification Board or the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts. These professionals often supervise other people, including paraprofessionals, who will be working directly with your child. Thus, it is important that you feel confident that the licensed clinical psychologist or behavior analyst is providing regular supervision to anyone working directly with your child.