What is Applied Behavior Analysis?
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a natural science of human behavior that applies evidence-based strategies in real-world settings, such as clinics or schools, with the aim of improving issues of social importance (e.g., behavior problems, skill acquisition).
ABA interventions are typically designed to address specific skill deficits, such as social skills, self-care skills, mealtime skills or other behavioral concerns within and outside of the mealtime context (e.g., food selectivity, packing, head turning and disruptive behavior, toileting, tooth brushing, communication skills). These interventions often involve first identifying the environmental conditions under which the behavior does and does not occur. This information then is used to guide the development of an individualized, function-based treatment. Typically, function-based treatments involve altering the physical or social environment in ways that minimize problem behavior and promote adaptive behavior (e.g., social skills or self-care skills).
ABA interventions have proven effective at addressing a wide range of behavioral concerns with many different individuals. Decades of research have shown that ABA interventions are effective in reducing problem behavior and establishing adaptive skills in children, adolescents and adults with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (including autism spectrum disorder) in home, school, clinic, community and industry settings.
Common features of all ABA interventions include:
- Objective and reliable measurement of socially important behavior;
- Procedures that are replicable and based on the principles of behavior;
- Established experimental designs and precise control of the environment, which allow for the objective evaluation of intervention outcomes; and
- Effective and durable treatments.
Is Applied Behavior Analysis evidence based?
Based on the empirical evidence, many scientific, government, and professional agencies and organizations have concluded that ABA-based procedures represent best practice for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder and pediatric feeding disorders.