What Is ABA Therapy & Is It Right for Your Child?

Kids playing during ABA therapy session

Applied behavior analysis, also known as ABA, is a scientific approach to helping people improve their lives.

Applied behavior analysis is well known as an evidence-based intervention for children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).

We’ll go a bit more in-depth on explaining what ABA is and help you to decide if ABA is right for your child.

What Is ABA Therapy?

First, let’s look at ABA therapy as a specific type of human service intervention. ABA therapy, or applied behavior analysis, has similarities and differences compared to other types of human service interventions, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, education in a school setting, social work, or counseling.

Definition of Applied Behavior Analysis

To help give you a better idea of what ABA means, let’s consider its formal definition. 

The science in which tactics derived from the principles of behavior are applied to improve socially significant behavior and experimentation is used to identify the variables responsible for the improvement in behavior.

Breaking that definition of ABA apart, we can understand applied behavior analysis and how ABA therapy can be beneficial for improving quality of life. Let’s jump right in and look at each part of the whole definition of ABA.

Science

Since applied behavior analysis is a science, we can describe ABA as being a systematic approach to the study of behavior. Behavior is anything that a person or living being does. The scientific foundation of ABA allows a systematic and strategic approach to helping people improve their lives which makes intervention much more effective.

Tactics Derived from the Principles of Behavior

The next part of the definition of ABA says that ABA addresses the ‘tactics derived from the principles of behavior.’ What this basically means is that ABA uses interventions that are based on what we know about how people act and how they learn and develop. The interventions that ABA providers recommend are based on what scientists, researchers, and specialists have discovered about what makes people do what they do and how people can learn new things and accomplish goals.

Applied

The next part of the definition of ABA is that it is ‘applied.’ This means that applied behavior analysis-based interventions are practical and useful in a person’s everyday life. ABA therapy addresses specific problems and develops realistic solutions for those concerns to help people improve their quality of life. This approach addresses a person’s daily life and what is important for them rather than focusing on general ideas or generic goals that might not be applicable or meaningful to the person receiving the ABA services.

Socially Significant Behavior

The idea that ABA therapy is ‘applied’ is closely related to the idea that ABA addresses ‘socially significant behaviors.’ When we say that ABA focuses on socially significant behaviors, we mean that ABA providers help address behaviors and skills that are important and meaningful to your child. Addressing socially significant behaviors is a way of saying that ABA providers help children work towards goals that help your child to have a better quality of life.

Experimentation

ABA also includes the use of experimentation. In its basic sense, experimentation involves a systematic process for completing a procedure under specific conditions while attempting to evaluate how something may affect something else. An experiment might also be a way of implementing a strategy that is believed to be effective and then monitoring the outcomes of that intervention to be sure that things are working out in a positive way.

In ABA, experimentation is used by encouraging clients or behavior therapists to implement strategies that have been found to be effective for addressing specific behaviors or for improving certain skills.

Identifying Variables

Finally, ABA therapy also attempts to identify variables. This means that ABA therapists will try to identify or figure out what factors might be influencing the client’s behaviors or what might be getting in the way of a child learning new skills, or what might be causing a child to act a certain way. 

An ABA therapist will help your child to increase skills, reduce problem behaviors, and improve development across a variety of important skill-sets – social, communication, self-care and much more.

Behavior

Behavior is anything that someone does. In applied behavior analysis or ABA therapy, there is a focus on how people can improve their behaviors in ways that improve their current and future quality of life.

7 Dimensions of ABA

Applied behavior analysis is also based on seven core concepts. These concepts are known as the seven dimensions of ABA. Any ABA services that your child receives would include these characteristics in some way. 

  1. Generalization
    ABA helps people to use things they learn during therapy in a variety of settings, with different people, and in new ways, so they can be more successful in their daily lives.
  2. Effective
    ABA therapy aims to provide effective services. Even if an intervention doesn’t work, ABA therapists will continue working with you to find something that will.
  3. Technological
    ABA intervention plans are typically developed in a clear and concise manner so that the intervention is understandable and can be implemented accurately by more than one person. This helps to ensure that an intervention is effective (or if it’s not working, then it can be modified to make it more likely that your child will accomplish their goals throughout ABA therapy).
  4. Applied
    ABA focuses on socially significant behaviors. This means that ABA therapists collaborate with you on identifying goals to work on that are meaningful and important to your child.
  5. Conceptually Systematic
    ABA therapy is based on the science of behavior, which is basically the collection of ideas that helps us to understand the way in which people act and how they learn and change.
  6. Analytic
    ABA services are based on data, which helps services to be more effective.
  7. Behavioral
    ABA focuses on behavior which is basically anything that a person does or how they act. ABA can also address a person’s internal behaviors or their thoughts and emotions, as well.

Skills ABA Therapy Can Help Address

A few things that ABA can help with include:

  • Daily living skills
  • Self-care skills
  • Attention
  • Social skills
  • Academic skills and behaviors
  • Community participation
  • Employment skills
  • Stress management
  • Self-management
  • Emotional development
  • Family relationships
  • Language skills
  • Play and leisure skills
  • Challenging behaviors
  • Safety skills
  • Aggression and self-injury

If you have a child with autism or if you are interested in obtaining ABA therapy for another reason, contact Behavioral Innovations at (855) 782-7822 or fill out a short form to see if ABA is right for your family.

More Ways ABA Therapists Can Help Kids 

ABA services can help kids learn new things. ABA can help parents learn how to manage and reduce challenging behaviors that their child engages in. ABA can help kids learn valuable life skills they can use for the rest of their lives.

A few more ways that ABA therapy may be able to help your child include:

  • Helping your child to become more independent and better at self-care skills, such as brushing their teeth or taking a shower
  • Helping a child to become fully toilet trained
  • Helping kids to complete basic household chores such as cleaning their room or sweeping the floor or feeding a pet
  • Teaching kids to complete important life skills, such as making their own snack or completing a morning or evening routine
  • Encouraging kids to become more independent with their schoolwork
  • Improving a child’s communication skills, such as teaching them to speak (if they don’t communicate verbally yet) or teaching them to initiate conversation or how to appropriately respond to other people
  • Helping a child to be happier and healthier in their day to day life

If your child could use help with any of the things we’ve mentioned or if you are looking for guidance on anything else related to your child’s behaviors, development, or even how to help them develop skills that will help them in their future, contact Behavioral Innovations at (855) 782-7822 or fill out a short form.

ABA Therapy at Behavioral Innovations

When receiving ABA services, one of Behavioral Innovations’ experienced BCBA’s (Board-Certified Behavior Analyst) will systematically assess the behaviors and functioning of your child. They will focus on your child; however, they will also include YOU in the assessment and treatment process so that you can stay fully informed of what is going on throughout services and also so you can have the support you need to help your child outside of therapy services.

Therapy sessions are conducted at one of Behavioral Innovations’ centers, where the therapists will systematically and compassionately work with your child to help them accomplish the goals that address things that are important to your child’s quality of life while also accepting and encouraging your child to truly be themselves.

ABA therapy for kids at Behavioral Innovations is conducted by providing children with one-on-one sessions. The number of sessions per week is determined by the assessment completed by the BCBA and based on what you decide will work best for your child.

Behavioral Innovations involves the parents when offering services. Regular meetings and parent communication will help your child meet the goals that you and the BCBA initially developed for your child. The exact number of times you meet with a behavior analyst will be decided in the assessment and treatment planning process.

ABA therapy has many benefits and is an evidence-based intervention for children with autism. To find out if ABA is right for you, reach out to Behavioral Innovations at (855) 782-7822 or fill out a short form.

REFERENCES

”Applied.” Merriam-Webster.com. Retried from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/applied.

Baer, D. M., Wolf, M. M., & Risley, T. R. (1968). Some current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. Journal of applied behavior analysis, 1(1), 91-7.

Cooper, J.O., Heron, T.E., & Heward, W.L. (2014) Applied behavior analysis /Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson/Merrill-Prentice Hall.

”Experiment.” Merriam-Webster.com. Retried from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/experiment.

Hull, C. L. (1943). Principles of behavior: an introduction to behavior theory. Oxford, England: Appleton-Century.

Leaf, J. B., Leaf, R., McEachin, J., Taubman, M., Ala’i-Rosales, S., Ross, R. K., et al. (2016e). Applied behavior analysis is a science and, therefore, progressive. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46, 720–731. 

Slocum, T. A., Detrich, R., Wilczynski, S. M., Spencer, T. D., Lewis, T., & Wolfe, K. (2014). The Evidence-Based Practice of Applied Behavior Analysis. The Behavior analyst, 37(1), 41-56. doi:10.1007/s40614-014-0005-2

”Science.”Merriam-Webster.com. Retried from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/science.

”Tactics.” Merriam-Webster.com. Retried from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tactics.
 

“You and your crew did an amazing job! My wife and I are really, really happy with the results that we have seen in him. Thanks so much, God bless you and the Behavioral Innovations team.”

Michele S., Parent

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