Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a scientific, evidence-based approach to understanding and changing behavior to improve lives. ABA analyzes the functional relationship between one’s behaviors and their environment by looking at what occurs before a behavior (antecedent) and what happens after a behavior (consequence). A behavior analyst identifies ways to modify the environment and teach new skills that will improve an individual’s health and safety, communication abilities, social relationships, and independence.
For example, in an ABA session, a behavior therapist reinforces desired behaviors or functional skills by providing desired behaviors or functional skills by providing desired outcomes, such as candy, toys, games, praise, etc., when a desired behavior is exhibited. Behavior therapists withhold reinforcement when undesired behaviors, such as tantrums or aggression, are displayed. Individuals quickly learn that desired behaviors will easily and quickly bring them desired results, whereas undesired behaviors will not bring desired outcomes. Over time, prompts and rewards are gradually removed to help the client learn to integrate desirable behavior in natural environments. Research has shown that ABA is an effective treatment for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other developmental or behavioral delays.