What is ABA?
To put it simply, ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) can be explained as: Using proven strategies to change behavior, then watching that behavior to see if it actually changed. ABA is used both to teach skills and reduce problem behavior.
Teaching Skills: Breaking tasks down into very simple steps and rewarding (called reinforcement in ABA) their efforts.
Reducing problem behaviors: This is more complicated, but can be achieved through a variety (and often a combination) of techniques.
- ♦ Ignoring the behavior
- ♦ Withholding reinforcement (rewards)
- ♦ Teaching alternative, acceptable behavior
- Formal Definition: Applied behavior analysis is, "the process of applying sometimes tentative principles of behavior to the improvement of specific behaviors, and simultaneously evaluating whether or not any changes noted are indeed attributable to the process of application--and if so, to what parts of that process" (Baer, Wolf, & Risley, 1968).
ABA is most effective when it is started early and when implemented consistently. Research has found that the most gains are made when ABA begins before the age of 5. That doesn't mean that it doesn't work with older children, just that it may be more challenging. In general, learning is easier when we are younger. Also, our behaviors become habits, and the longer we practice these habits, the harder it is for us to change them.
Consistency is the other key factor with ABA. It is important that children have the same expectations from all caregivers, and that the outcomes of their behaviors remain the same. Many kids have an IEP (Individualized Education Program) at school and ABA based programs are being practiced at school. By learning ABA strategies you can work with the teachers to help your child become more independent at school and home.