ABA stands for Applied Behavioral Analysis. In general, ABA acts as a comprehensive treatment plan that works to minimize problematic behaviors while increasing appropriate behaviors and skills in all environments. ABA is a scientifically-validated treatment approach for individuals with Autism and is commonly prescribed by pediatricians for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
ABA targets all areas of a child’s development and serves to build a foundation of skills necessary for functional living, academic, and social learning, while being tailored to each individual’s needs.
Practitioners of ABA therapy aim to improve socially important behaviors by using interventions that are based upon principles of learning. These principles have been evaluated in experiments using reliable and objective measurement. ABA methods can be used to support those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at any age. These support methods are intended to increase on-task behaviors, increase social interactions and to teach new skills. Such skills include: life skills, communication skills, and social skills. ABA therapy may also be used to maintain behaviors, like self-control and for self-monitoring procedures. ABA may be used to reduce self-inflicted injuries and other interfering behaviors. It can also be beneficial to generalize or transfer behavior from one situation to another—from completing assignments to performing tasks in unfamiliar environments.
While studies show that ABA is effective in increasing positive behaviors and teaching new skills, many studies demonstrate that ABA is most effective in reducing problematic behavior when implemented frequently and preferably before the age of four years old. ABA therapy may also produce large gains in development along the way and reduce the need for special services if intervention was given at a very young age. While ABA treatment is most commonly used for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, it can also be used in the treatment of other conditions as well, including: dementia, eating disorders, brain injuries, anger issues, personality disorders, panic disorders and phobias.
ABA therapy may be prescribed by a developmental pediatrician, a neurologist, a child psychologist or a psychiatrist. A board certified behavior analyst (BCBA) may perform the actual treatment, and should always work with the individual’s specific goals and devise a specific treatment plan for them. Moreover, a BCBA should always supervise your child’s ABA treatment and regularly supervise any other qualified behavior technician that may work with the individual receiving the treatment on a regular basis.