What is Applied Behavior Analysis?


ABA stands for Applied Behavior Analysis:

  • Applied – This means it is in the client’s setting (not in a research facility) and focuses on socially significant behavior

  • Behavior – An observable and measurable act

  • Analysis – This means data is used to determine programming

What Can ABA Teach?

  • Social skills (e.g. requesting to peers, responding to peer’s requests, parallel play, etc.)

  • Receptive language (i.e. identifying items, following directions, etc.)

  • Expressive language (i.e. requesting, labeling items, answering questions, etc.)

  • Daily living skills (e.g. toothbrushing, dressing, toileting, showering, etc.)

  • Vocational skills (e.g. grocery shopping, sorting functional items, etc.)

Typical Program Components

  • Adaptive and self-care skills

  • Attending and social referencing

  • Cognitive functioning

  • Community participation

  • Coping and tolerance skills

  • Emotional developments

  • Family relationships

  • Language and communication

  • Play and leisure skills

  • Pre-academic skills

  • Safety skills

  • Self-advocacy and independence

  • Self- management

  • Social relationships

  • Vocational skills

  • Reduction of interfering or inappropriate behaviors

Analyzing Behavior

When analyzing behavior, we look at environmental events before and after the behavior of interest. Manipulations of these events can cause changes in behavior. These environmental events are referred to as:

  • Antecedents: any environmental event that occurs directly before the target behavior

  • Consequences: any environment change/event that occurs immediately after the target behavior

When we analyze behavior, we are attempting to understand why an individual behaves in a particular way. We want to identify environmental variables that trigger instances of behavior and other environmental variables that influence the likelihood of the behavior being repeated in the future – so we look at environmental events before and after the behavior of interest.  

Manipulations of environmental events that trigger behaviors can prevent the behavior from occurring in the first place, and manipulations of the environmental events just after a behavior can influence how likely the behavior is to be repeated in the future.  Our manipulation of these identified environmental events are how we produce behavior change.

Why do we analyze behavior? In order to increase or decrease a behavior we have to determine the function.

  • Escape

  • Attention

  • Access

  • Automatic Reinforcement

What Do Behavior Analysts Do?

  • Is either a BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) or a BCaBA (Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst)

  • Oversee all clinical aspects of patient’s therapy

  • Create and modify patient’s program

  • Observe patient with their technician(s) on a regular basis

  • Develop Behavior Intervention Plans

  • Complete insurance authorizations for services

  • Update assessments every 6 months

  • Meet with the parents/family monthly

  • Provide parent training and home consultations as needed

  • Collaborate with family and other providers

  • Supervise the behavior technicians and provide ongoing training

What Do Behavior Technicians Do?

  • Provide individualized one-on-one therapy with your child

  • Train and support patients to help them acquire and develop new skills

  • Implement Behavior Intervention Plans developed by Program Coordinator

  • Collect data on program goals via Catalyst

  • Communicate and collaborate with therapy team on patient progress

  • Receive on the job training and continuous training on individual programming

  • Receive First Aid and CPR training

  • Complete training to become a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)

What Can You Do?

Antecedent Strategies

  • Minimize downtime and distractions

  • Follow a schedule

  • Offer frequent choices

  • Modify the environment

  • Provide specific praise statements

  • Start with something easy

  • Allow time to explore without expectations

  • Pay attention to your child’s cues

De-Escalation Strategies

  • Remain calm and confident

  • Review expectations

  • Praise improvements in behavior