In short, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the application of the science of human behavior applied to socially significant behaviors. ABA therapy works to address areas of need that impact an individual’s (or group of individuals) ability to be successful in life.
If you are a parent or practitioner who uses or has a child who receives ABA Treatment, you may find explaining ABA to be difficult; ABA can look vastly different for one individual than another. It also may be difficult to know if you are truly receiving ABA treatment. If you are a parent… how do you know if your child is receiving is ABA? In Pennsylvania, families who were told they were receiving ABA therapy discovered that their children were in fact not receiving ABA. This resulted in a pretty significant lawsuit against the Department of Public Welfare. Unfortunately, families continue to have this challenge.
This quick list may help clarify what ABA is … and what it is not.
- ABA is the study of human behavior.
- ABA is the only approved treatment for Autism by the AMA, CDC, and Surgeon General, among others.
- ABA is always to include the teaching of new skills and behaviors
- ABA ALWAYS includes data analysis and treatment decisions are based on that data
- If a learner is not making progress, the ABA team will analyze data and environment and modify the plan.
- ABA uses assessments and instruction techniques based on the learner’s needs and level of abilities.
- ABA is always to provide positive treatment and interventions and include documentation of those interventions.
- Any intervention which includes punishment within an ABA program REQUIRES written permission from the family.
- Behavior Analysts recognize that living beings can learn by having changes made to their environment and by attending to an individual’s motivation.
- ABA Therapy is to be provided and supervised by Board Certified Behavior Analysts
- ABA therapy is effective in making positive change in many populations including individuals with intellectual and developmental delays, traumatic brain injury, dementia, addiction, anxiety, among others.
ABA is NOT…
… Used only for Autism
… Negative or aversive for children
… Just using pictures or schedules with a child who has Autism
… Sitting at a table teaching trials
… Limited to discrete trial
… Having a child sit in a chair for long periods of time.
… The use of punishment procedures without written consent of the family (ever!)
… Just taking data on behavior and reporting that data
… An intervention or specific strategy,… it is a discipline and a science