Applied Behavior Analysis is a scientific approach to understanding behavior. Behavior Analysis is a theory with principles and laws that are derived from research. All of the practices in Applied Behavior Analysis are derived from basic research. ABA is considered an evidence-based practice, which means that ABA has passed scientific tests of its usefulness, quality, and effectiveness. When such principles and laws are put into practice, it is said that behavior analysis is being applied, behavior analysis helps us to understand how behavior works, how behavior is affected by the environment and how learning takes place, thus the term APPLIED BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS or ABA for short.
Simply put, applied behavior analysis is a science concerned with the behavior of people, what people do and say, and the behavior of animals. Behavior analysis attempts to understand, describe, and predict behavior – why is it we do what we do and how did we learn to do what we do? The goal is to increase behaviors that are helpful and decrease behaviors that are harmful or affect learning.
The years of basic research in Applied Behavior Analysis have given us many Laws of Human Behavior that we can apply to the treatment of children with autism. ABA has its roots in behavior therapy since the 20th century. The earliest behavior analysis on children with autism spectrum appeared in the early 1960’s and 1970’s in the USA. ABA requires implementation of established principals of learning, behavioral strategies and environmental modifications to improve and teach new behaviors. Applied Behavior Analysis is founded on 7 core dimensions. This means that all interventions that are provided through ABA services should fall within these 7 categories. The 7 dimensions are, Generalization, Effective, Technological, Applied, Conceptually Systematic, Analytic and Behavioral. Generalization is when skills and or behaviors occur in environments other than where they were taught. Effective interventions are monitored to evaluate the impact on the target behavior. Technological procedures are described clearly and concisely so that others may implement accurately. Applied is when socially significant behaviors are selected. Conceptually Systematic interventions are consistent with principals demonstrated by literature. Analytic decisions are data based. Behaviors targeted are observable ad measurable.
It is important to understand that Applied Behavior Analysis is not only limited to autism. There is a variety of populations and fields that ABA can be applied to. The interventions that have been developed based on ABA principals are used in every walk of life and every profession. Different types of people use ABA in their jobs and in their lives. Parents, teachers, psychologists and these ABA principals can be used in education, weight loss, animal training, sports and within many other fields and activities. The ultimate goal of Applied Behavior Analysis is to establish and enhance socially important behaviors!