What is ABA?

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is a research-based, scientific method that began with the work of B.F. Skinner. The science measures observable behavior.  It looks at what occurs before a behaviour (antecedent) and what happens after a behaviour (consequence). In addition, the methods of ABA are applied by breaking down skills into simple steps and teaching each step in succession. Skills are taught with the use of prompting or cuing to assist learning. A correct response is followed by positive reinforcement which increases the likelihood that a behaviour or response will occur more often in the future.

ABA based intervention is validated for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), but is also applicable to children with other developmental disabilities. It is a set of principles and guidelines upon which educational programs are based and should not be used synonymously with a specific program. An ABA program targets specific developmental areas such as:

  • Attending skills
  • Imitative skills
  • Fine motor and gross motor skills
  • Language skills
  • Functional skills/self-help skills
  • Social skills
  • Toileting skills
  • Problem behaviours

Other names encountered within the field of ABA are: Verbal Behavior (VB), Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT), Natural Environment Teaching (NET), Pivotal Response Teaching (PRT) and Fluency-based instruction. Each use a specific method of instruction and are all are based on the principles of ABA.

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