Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a form of therapy that is used in Action Behavior centers, community centers, and educational facilities. Although ABA is appropriate for most children and adults, it’s a highly effective therapeutic approach for autistic children.
Sometimes called behavioral engineering, ABA uses two well-known psychological principles – respondent and operant conditioning. It aims to change an individual’s behavior by using positive reinforcement, response training, and intensive behavioral intervention.
Principles of ABA
ABA therapy has been used for decades and was developed by a psychologist called Dr. Ivar Lovaas. Psychology has developed a lot since the 1960s when ABA was first invented. However, the general principles of ABA remain mostly unchanged.
Applied Behavior Analysis focuses on four functions of behavior – attention seeking, avoidance, instant gratification, and reinforcement. It looks at how an individual’s behaviors can be influenced by their environment and how these behaviors can be strengthened or weakened.
An ABA therapist may focus on just one function of behavior or all four of them, depending on the individual needs of each client.
Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis
There are seven different dimensions that are used in ABA to encourage positive behavioral changes.
The seven dimensions are:
- Generality – ABA is often delivered by multiple therapists and professionals, and parents are encouraged to use ABA techniques at home with their children. This encourages positive behavioral changes in every scenario and environment.
- Effective – a professional therapist will look at the various strategies being used by behavioral analysts and technicians to make adjustments to the way they deliver their ABA therapy sessions and ensure they are effective.
- Technological – ABA therapists use highly-detailed, customized programs so that other therapists and parents are able to replicate their strategies in other settings.
- Applied – this revolves around teaching vital life skills that can be used in real-life scenarios outside of a clinical setting.
- Conceptually systematic – ABA techniques can be used to understand why an individual behaves the way they do.
- Analytic – all of the data that is gathered by an ABA therapist must be accurate so that it can be analyzed by other therapists and researchers.
- Behavioral – every behavior that is observed by an ABA therapist can be applied to other situations to improve an individual’s behavior in multiple areas of their life.
What Are the Benefits of ABA?
Applied Behavior Analysis provides a wide range of benefits for people of all ages and backgrounds. Some of the main benefits include:
- Improved speech and language development
- Enhanced cognitive development
- Improved mental health
- Better focus, concentration, and memory
- Scientifically based approach that has been used and improved for decades
- Multiple functions and dimensions that can be catered toward an individual’s unique needs
- Effective for autistic children
- Parents can learn ABA techniques to use at home with their children