What is ABA?
Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is a science that involves the application of principles of learning to improve socially important behaviour to a meaningful degree and to demonstrate scientifically that the procedures used are responsible for the change in behaviour. In other words, this method teaches small, measurable units of behaviour systematically in conjunction with frequent review of progress data so that goals and programs can be revised and updated as needed. ABA is a set of principles that form the basis for many behavioral treatments. ABA is based on the science of learning and behavior. This science includes general “laws” about how behavior works and how learning takes place. ABA therapy applies these laws to behavior treatments in a way that helps to increase useful or desired behaviors. Behavior analysis is a scientific approach to understanding behavior and how the environment affects it. ABA therapy is used to increase language and communication skills. It is also used to improve attention, focus, social skills, memory, and academics. ABA can be used to help decrease problem behaviors.
ABA therapy is based on the work of psychologist B.F. Skinner. Skinner developed a theory of operant conditioning to look at how one can control behavior by altering the consequences of that behavior. Parents often naturally use the same principles when they engage with their children by rewarding them for doing something well. For example, a young infant may reach out to grab a toy for the first time. Parents often naturally provide consequences (reinforcement) for this behaviour by showing excitement and happiness while making repeated attempts to have the child engage in that behaviour (reaching for the toy). This is one example of a basic form of ABA we see in day-to-day life!
Done correctly, ABA interventions are not a one size fits all approach consisting of a predetermined set of programs or drills. On the contrary, every aspect of the intervention is customized to each learner's skills, needs, interests, preferences, and family situation. For those reasons, an ABA program for one learner will look different than a program for another learner.