Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)


What is ABA?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a type of therapy that focuses on improving specific behaviors, such as social skills, communication, as well as adaptive learning skills. ABA is effective for children and adults with psychological disorders in a variety of settings, including schools, workplaces, homes, and clinics. It has also been shown that consistent ABA can significantly improve behaviors and skills and decreases the need for special services.

What does ABA intervention involve?

Functional Behavior Assessments are invaluable to quality ABA programs. They are designed to identify barriers to learning and establish interventions that are customized to the patient's skills, needs, interests, preferences and situation. For these reasons, an ABA program for one patient will look different than a program for another patient. Quality ABA programs have the following in common:

  • Comprehensive assessments by a qualified BCBA 
  • Treatment goals and instruction that is developmentally appropriate and target a broad range of skill areas such as communication, socialization, self-care, play and leisure, etc.
  • Goals that emphasize skills that will enable patients to become independent and successful, both short and long term (i.e. socially significant)
  • The intervention involves ongoing objective data-based measurement of the patient’s progress
  • Frequent review of information on the patient’s progress and uses this to adjust procedures and goals as needed
  • A strong supervision structure


  • The instructor uses a variety of behavior analytic procedures, some of which are directed by the instructor and others initiated by the child
  • Family, caregivers and/or other involved professionals receive training so they can support learning and skill practice throughout the day
  • The patient’s day is structured to provide many opportunities – both planned and naturally occurring - to acquire and practice skills in both structured and unstructured settings
  • The patient receives an abundance of positive reinforcement for demonstrating useful skills and socially appropriate behaviors; the emphasis is on positive social interactions and enjoyable learning
  • The patient receives no reinforcement for behaviors that pose harm or prevent learning 

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Learn more about ABA!

Check out this great video on the history of ABA.