Applied Behavior Analysis

What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)?

There are many forms of specific behavioral therapy. However, applied behavioral analysis is one of the most common types of behavioral therapy used for children with certain developmental disabilities. Applied behavior analysis, or ABA for short, was developed in the late 1960’s and is characterized by a careful observation and analysis of challenging behaviors as they occur within the child’s natural environment. The analysis is then directly linked to a behavior intervention plan so as to produce healthy, more adaptive ways of responding to situations. The ABA approach has been used widely with children with autism spectrum disorders and other problems of a developmental nature. ABA techniques can be used to foster development of basic skills such as looking, listening and imitating, as well as complex skills such as reading, conversing and understanding another person’s perspective. These therapeutic approaches might also be used to help a child handle things like a change in schedule, changes in their environment or other things that might be difficult for them to manage without support. ABA can reduce the chances that these situations will trigger problem behaviors.

Although there are specific concepts that guide ABA, there is no standard treatment protocol. The concepts are applied to each child based on the child’s skills, abilities, level of functioning and behaviors to tailor a program to individual needs.

Behavior therapy is based on the simple concept of positive reinforcement for desired behaviors, consequences or planned ignoring for undesired behaviors. 

Who can Benefit from Behavior Therapy?

Behavior therapy in some form can be beneficial for all children with disabilities, whether they have specific behavior problems or not. The therapy would focus on extinguishing challenging behaviors and teaching new adaptive behaviors in the face of challenging behaviors. For children with developmental disabilities without specific behavioral problems, behavioral therapy may be helpful in motivating children toward specific therapeutic goals.

Behavioral therapy is also very helpful for children with behavioral challenges who do not have a developmental disability.

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