Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) is the only research-based treatment plan for Autism Spectrum Disorder which has proven success in mainstreaming many autistic children into the public school system with minimal assistance. ABA is considered an evidence-based “best” practice treatment. “Evidence-based” means that ABA has passed scientific tests of its usefulness, quality, and effectiveness. To know about why you should use ABA read “Why ABA”
Applied Behavioral Analysis training uses positive reinforcement to teach children desired behaviors. When a child demonstrates the correct behavior in response to an environmental stimulus such as a sound or a demand from a parent or teacher, the child is rewarded with a reinforcer appropriate to the behavior and the particular child. A reinforcer could be anything from a special treat, reward or to a chance to play with a favorite toy, or even just a smile and a hug from the requestor. The child’s typical environment is studied carefully to determine what stimuli cause the child to behave undesirably. Over the course of therapy, a consultant will work to either remove stimuli that lead to undesirable behaviors or to change the child’s response to those triggers.
ABA therapy breaks a child’s behavior down into objective and measurable units so that behavioral data can be collected and observed in order to assess the child’s behaviors, identify the skills the child needs to develop and record the effectiveness of the therapy over time. This evidence-based approach makes ABA therapy’s results clearly demonstrable. According to a 1999 Surgeon General’s report: “Thirty years of research demonstrated the efficacy of applied behavioral methods in reducing inappropriate behavior and in increasing communication, learning, and appropriate social behavior.”
So in summary, ABA is a systematic and data-driven approach that results in changing socially significant behaviors. Ultimately, the focus is on measured outcomes achieved. Our job is to make sure these outcomes are meaningful and add to an individual’s quality of life.