Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree, and to demonstrate that the interventions employed are responsible for the improvement in behavior. (Baer, Wolf & Risley, 1968; Sulzer-Azaroff & Mayer, 1991)
During an ABA session, a licensed and masters level Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) designs and directly oversees each person's individualized treatment program. Each treatment program is customized to each learner's skills, needs, interests, preferences and family situation.
The BCBA conducts a detailed assessment known as a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) to assess each person’s background history, current skill set, communication level, behavior history, strengths and weaknesses, as well as likes and dislikes. This information is gained via indirect assessments (parent/caregiver interviews), previous records such as psychological reports and IEPs, and a therapist directly observing your loved one to collect data on any behavioral episodes they may exhibit. All information is then consolidated into a detailed report to help others that encounter your loved one understand their needs to better support them in all environments to enhance growth.
Once the FBA is complete, the BCBA will write a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) which provides caregivers preventative and deescalation strategies to decrease, interrupt, and redirect challenging behaviors such as: Physical Aggression, Self-Injurious Behaviors (SIB), Property Destruction, Elopement, Non-Compliance, etc...
In conjunction with the FBA and BIP, skill acquisition programs are created with treatment goals to increase socially appropriate behaviors based on the specific needs, age, and ability level of the person receiving ABA services. Goals can include many different skill areas, such as:
Communication and language
Self-care (such as showering and toileting)
Play and leisure
Learning and academic skills
Skill acquisition programs are broken down into small, concrete steps. The therapist teaches each step one by one, from simple (e.g. imitating single sounds) to more complex (e.g. carrying on a conversation). The BCBA and therapists measure progress by collecting data in each therapy session. Data is used to monitor the person’s progress toward goals on an ongoing basis.
The BCBA regularly meets with family members and program staff to review information about progress for planning and to adjust treatment plans and goals as needed.