Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) is the systematic application of principles of behaviour analysis to modify human behaviours. ABA focuses on the reliable measurement and objective evaluation of observable behaviour. ABA is most notably used as an intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
Skills are usually broken down into simpler tasks and taught individually. Frequent changes in the ABA therapy goals happen as the child mastered skills. For example, at first, the goal is to reduce behaviour problems, and then once reduced, the goal may focus on development of skills.
The delivery of ABA is centre-based or home-based, whereby therapists work on a one-on-one basis with the child. Because ABA programs are typically individualized to suit the needs of each ASD child, the amount of time per week each child spends in therapy can differ as well.
ABA methods are used to support persons with autism in at least six ways:
To increase positive behaviour (reinforcement procedures increase on-task behaviour or social interaction).
To teach new skills (systematic instruction and reinforcement procedures teach functional life skills, communication skills or social skills).
To maintain behaviour (teaching self-control and self-monitoring procedures to maintain and generalize job-related social skills).
To generalize behaviour from one situation or response to another (from completing assignments in the resource room to performing well in the mainstream classroom).
To restrict or narrow conditions under which interfering behaviours occur (modifying the learning environment).
To reduce interfering behaviours (self-injury or stereotypy).