Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a scientific approach to understanding socially significant, learned behavior and its relationship with the environment. ABA utilizes research-based techniques to increase useful behaviors and to decrease undesirable ones. ABA is often carried out one-on-one in formal, structured settings; clinical settings; or during natural routines such as playtime or snack time. Academics, language, self-help, play and social skills are among the many areas that can be taught using the principles of ABA.
ABA treatment is overseen and/or implemented by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). BCBAs have received Master’s or Doctoral level training in behavior analysis. They are skilled in the analysis of socially significant behavior problems and are thereby able to help determine why they occur so that effective treatments can be implemented.
BCBA’s develop Behavior Intervention Plans and treatment protocols, based on their findings. They collect data in order to evaluate if a specific treatment has been effective in bringing about behavioral change.
Applied Behavior Analysis is not used exclusively to treat individuals with autism, but because these children typically experience significant language delays, BCBA’s often utilize a behavioral approach to teach communication skills. After administering a behavioral language assessment, they develop a curriculum with specific educational objectives and monitor the child's progress in the acquisition of language skills.
ABA is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for children with autism. It has been endorsed by many government agencies, including the US Surgeon General. The National Research Council's book
A 2007 clinical report of the American Academy of Pediatrics states that the benefit of ABA based interventions in autism spectrum disorders "has been well documented" and that "children who receive early intensive behavioral treatment have been shown to make substantial, sustained gains in IQ, language, academic performance, and adaptive behavior as well as some measures of social behavior.”