What is ABA?
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the application of principles of behavior, most specifically reinforcement, to help individuals acquire important skills. Skills targeted for improvement are receptive identification skills, expressive language, fine and gross motor skills, functional living skills, social skills, and functional communication. Additionally, ABA therapy is utilized to decrease maladaptive behaviors by teaching and reinforcing functional replacements to those behaviors. Skill acquisition and behavior programs are individually developed to meet each client’s specific needs and ongoing data collection ensures that treatment is effective and progress can be evaluated on a frequent basis.
What is behavior?
In everyday language, behavior refers to the way a person acts or conducts themselves. However, the clinical definition of “behavior” refers to anything that a person says or does. All living organisms engage in specific behaviors that allow them to live, learn, and thrive. In a nutshell, a behavior is an action. ABA focuses on behaviors that can be observed, and we call these public events. Examples of observable behaviors are: standing up, taking a bite of pizza, saying “hello,” giving a friend a high five, etc.
There are other events that occur in one’s everyday life that go unseen by others, such as thinking about a fond memory or solving a math problem in your head. We refer to these behaviors as private events because although they do happen, no one else can see them. Since ABA therapy is a data driven approach to facilitating behavior change, behavior programs are developed with the focus geared towards those behaviors that can be observed and measured by others.