What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the use of techniques and principles to bring about meaningful and positive change in behavior.

Applied Behavior Analysis is the science that studies why people behave the way they do. ABA based therapy and treatment uses the basic principles of behavior analysis to change and improve the quality of lives of its consumers.

Board Certified Behavior Analysts measure outcomes to ensure goals are met. Goals are individualized and will look different depending on the needs of the consumer. Some goals may include:

  • Learning to communicate effectively
  • Reducing problematic behavior
  • Coping with frustration
  • Learning to learn
  • Increasing independent daily living skills
  • Basic early learning skills such as imitation, receptive language, matching
  • Academic skills, conversation and social skills
  • Increased menu selection, food tolerance
  • Reduction of disruptive, aggressive or self-injurious behaviors
  • Self-care skills such as: Toilet training, teeth brushing, dressing, sitting for haircuts, eating at the table

ABA therapy is effective in many different ways for many different people. Although ABA can be used with anyone, ABA is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for autism. Over the last 10 years, the nation has seen a particularly dramatic increase in the use of ABA to help persons with autism live happy and productive lives. In particular, ABA principles and techniques can foster basic skills such as looking, listening and imitating, as well as complex skills such as reading, conversing and understanding another person’s perspective.

Members of an ABA treatment team should include:

Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs)

BCBAs have a master's degree in behavior analysis, education, or psychology, have completed a BACB approved graduate-level course sequence in applied behavior analysis, supervised field work, and passed the BCBA examination. 

BCBAs are responsible for conducting assessments (VBMAPP, ABLLS, AFLS, FBA, etc.), developing behavior intervention plans, modifying behavior intervention plans, consulting with other service providers, providing parent training, coordinating social skills groups, and the direct supervision of BCaBAs and RBTs.

Board Certified assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBAs)

BCaBAs have a bachelor's degree, have completed a BACB approved undergraduate-level course sequence in applied behavior analysis, supervised field work, and passed the BCaBA examination. 

Under the supervision of a BCBA they conduct assessments (VBMAPP, ABLLS, AFLS, FBA, etc.) develop behavior intervention plans, modify behavior intervention plans, consult with other service providers, provide parent training, coordinate social skills groups, and directly supervise RBTs.

Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)

RBTs are paraprofessionals who have completed a minimum of 40 hours of academic coursework and have received on-the-job training in the direct application of applied behavior analysis.  They work under the ongoing supervision of a BCBA or a BCaBA.  They implement the interventions that have been designed by a BCBA or BCaBA.

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