Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree, and to demonstrate that the interventions employed are responsible for the improvement in behavior (Baer, Wolf & Risley, 1968; Sulzer-Azaroff & Mayer, 1991).
ABA techniques can be used in a variety of social, structured situations, from classroom settings, to everyday life, such as family events or playing with friends.
ABA methods support socially significant behaviors, which include reading, academics, social skills, communication, and everyday living skills such as motor skills, eating, food prep, dressing, self-care, punctuality, and more.
Positive reinforcement is a main component of ABA in order to increase and reinforce good behaviors and reward new skills. Behaviors are either increased such as with on-task behavior, and social interactions, maintained (self-control, self-monitoring), generalized or transferred from one situation to another (completing assignments in resource room and the mainstream classroom), restricted to certain conditions and environments, reduced entirely, or new skills can be taught (Center for Autism and Related Disorders).
Today, ABA is recognized as an effective treatment for autism, endorsed by state and federal agencies. It has seen a rise in use to help those with autism lead happy, healthy, productive lives (Autism Speaks). Basic skills, such as eye contact, listening, imitating, as well as more complex skills, like reading, communicating with others, and understanding another person’s point of view have all been shown to improve with ABA techniques.
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