Many people have heard the term or had experience with ABA in recent years yet still are not completely sure what it is. So…

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a treatment approach based on scientific principles of behavior developed over the past 50 years. It is considered to be the most effective, evidence-based treatment for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disorders. ABA is recommended as a “best” practice by the American Psychological Association and the US Surgeon General.

ABA therapy includes many different techniques all of which focus on the things that happen before and after a behavior (antecedents and consequences). Positive reinforcement is arguably the most widely used technique. This is when a behavior is immediately followed by a “reward” which then increases that behavior in the future. Example- Your child picks up their room and you give them a hug and $5 and they start cleaning their room more often.

ABA is committed to improving behaviors that improve the day to day life of the clients and their significant others. The field of ABA strives to include family members/ significant others in order to make sure it is effective in the “real world” of the person and not just in a clinic.

In the past 20 years there has been rapid growth in the field fueled mainly by work with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. This growth has been based on a study showing the success of ABA in treating children diagnosed with ASD and more recently by insurance mandates in states requiring ABA coverage for children diagnosed with ASD.

Chris C. Shaw Jr. M.A., BCBA, LBA – National Speech/Language Therapy Center