What is ABA?

ABA is a scientific approach to understanding human behavior by learning to understand the environment around it. In other words, ABA focuses on understanding how a person’s contact with various aspects of their environment (e.g. people, settings, contexts, and even internal states) influences how they learn and develop.

Why is this important? By understanding this information, we can apply it in ways that will improve a person’s life in many meaningful ways. Our goal is to make positive changes in socially significant behavior.

What does “socially significant” mean for my child? It refers to any behavior that is important for a growing child to exhibit, both from a social and developmental standpoint. While these skills may be unique for each child, they broadly include effective communication, social skills, play skills, daily living skills, and community based skills, and displaying acceptable behavior in challenging situations.

When making decisions for what to prioritize, some considerations practitioners make include: whether addressing a specific area will increase the child’s independence, if doing so makes it more likely that others will interact with the child in a way that supports their continued development, and if the skills being addressed will allow this child to navigate life experiences more effectively and in a way that promotes continued learning.

What else should I know about ABA? ABA is an evidence-based practice that seeks to systematically apply empirically-supported treatments to increase socially significant behavior.

What is evidence-based practice? Evidence-based practice is a professional decision-making model that emphasizes the importance of scientific evidence when making treatment decisions. The model requires that practitioners have a firm understanding of the evidence supporting the intervention they would like to implement with the client while considering the client’s values/context and their clinical expertise.

What are” empirically supported treatments?” Empirically supported treatments are specific treatments that have been proven effective through well-controlled clinical trials. Treatments labeled as such are likely to be effective in changing behavior if the treatment is implemented with integrity, under specific conditions, and with a specific population.

So how does ABA apply to autism? ABA therapy, when delivered carefully and comprehensively has consistently been shown to produce significant improvements in children, adolescents, and adults with autism and other developmental delays. It is widely considered the most effective treatment for these populations. Learn more about this topic by visiting our resource page.