What is ABA?
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a scientifically validated approach used to understand and improve behaviors of social significance, such as self-help, communication, social and academic life skills. This science, ABA, reveals the functions of human behavior, actions and skills, by experimenting with the environmental variables responsible for maintaining specific responses. The principles and techniques of Applied Behavior Analysis, as chosen based on the results of efficient data collection systems, are implemented in order to bring about positive and meaningful changes in behavior.
ABA treatment is useful in teaching behaviors to children with Autism as they are unable to learn in the same manner as their typically developing peers. Through Applied Behavior Analysis, skills are broken down into their most basic components. These components are then systematically taught until all of the skill’s elements are demonstrated and mastered. A variety of behavior analytic procedures are implemented by instructors practicing the principles of ABA as a means of fostering basic and complex skills with each child.
Parents and family members are able and encouraged to receive training, so they are better equipped to support learning and skill practice in the home and in the community. Each child’s day is purposefully structured in order to ensure as many learning opportunities, both planned and naturally occurring, as possible. This systematic approach to learning creates great possibilities for the learner to acquire and practice skills in a variety of structured and unstructured environments.
Applied Behavior Analysis focuses on how learning most effectively takes place for each learner through systematic behavioral observation and positive reinforcement methods in order to promote positive social interactions and enjoyable learning. Positive reinforcement is one of the main principles used with ABA. Positive reinforcement is based on the concept that when a behavior is followed by some sort of reward, that behavior is more likely to reoccur. This technique, when implemented properly, is proven to increase positive behaviors and reduce those considered problematic and/or harmful. After close monitoring and observation, the function(s) of a behavior is determined based on empirically proven methods of assessment, as well as manipulations to the environment, in order to create more functionally appropriate behaviors for the learner.
Competently provided ABA interventions, such as those offered at St. Gerard House, are capable of helping learners with autism make significant progress and change in many areas if given the necessary time and commitment that this treatment requires. Most learners demand intensive and ongoing instruction in order to build a foundation of skills and further the step-by-step progress proven possible using ABA therapy. Moreover, the rate of progress, like the goals of each individual’s intervention, varies considerably from person to person depending on age, function level, and family goals.
Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies have examined the potential benefits of combining multiple ABA techniques into comprehensive, intensive individualized early intervention programs for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. One U.S. Surgeon General’s Report concludes, “Thirty years of research demonstrated the efficacy of applied behavioral methods in reducing inappropriate behavior and in increasing communication, learning, and appropriate social behavior.”(Autism Speaks)