What is ABA?


What is ABA?: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is based on the science of behavior analysis. It is evidence-based and based on many years of controlled research. In general, it is an educational approach to treatment where skills are broken down into small components and systematically taught using the principles of reinforcement. Additionally, reinforcement and other behavioral principles are be used to increase, shape, maintain socially significant behaviors, and to decrease undesirable behaviors . Utilizing the principles of Behavior Analysis to treat children with autism became very popular after Dr. Ivar Lovaas published a study in 1987. The study reported that 48% of the children that received his therapy achieved normal functioning. That is, they were indistinguishable from their peers. 
 
Since then, ABA as applied to children with autism has come a long way. There are several therapy techniques. The treatment made famous by Dr. Lovaas utilizes a method known as Discrete Trial Training. Since then, Behavior Analysts such as Dr. Mark Sundberg have gained recognition for their work in the area of ABA and autism. Dr. Sundburg has developed the idea of normalized teaching and integrating B. F. Skinner's theories on verbal behavior into treatment programs. Yet another ABA practitioner is Andy Body. He developed the Picture Exchange Communication System to teach children with autism a way to communicate using pictures. The one constant of all of these methods are that they utilize the principles of behavior analysis.
 
There is a misconception that using ABA creates children who look more like robots then actual children. This idea is outdated because of all of the new advances in the field of ABA. A good ABA program has an emphasis on generalization and natural environment training, so that the children can utilize the skills they are taught with other people (families, friends), with other materials, and in various environments. 
 
There is a national certification that individuals can receive (Board Certified Behavior Analysts) that indicate that they are well educated in the field. In order to achieve this certification a person must take the required course work, field work, and pass an extensive exam. After achieving this certification they can then become recognized by their peers as proficient in this field. An ideal ABA program will most definitely be overseen by a qualified BCBA.