ABA explained briefly
ABA stands for Applied Behavior Analysis and is used to understand and change behavior.
A behavior is analyzed in terms of the conditions that cause it, as well as in terms of the purpose it serves. Based on this information, changes in the conditions when the behavior occurs, as well as in the effect the behavior triggers, are implemented to change the behavior itself.
ABA is very intuitive and can be taught to parents, teachers, and caregivers. It can be applied to any behavior, whether the behavior should be increased (e.g. eye contact) or decreased (e.g. loud screaming). ABA provides the means to look at each family and their challenges individually, and to tailor a solution adapted to their needs.
ABA in detail
Applied Behavior Analysis is a scientific discipline developed in the United States in the 20th century within the behaviorism paradigm. Since then, ABA has continuously been developed further and its efficiency has been shown repeatedly. ABA is concerned with the discovery of principles that govern behavior, as well as with the application of these principles to target behavior change.
ABA can be applied broadly: in education, in sports, in management, as well as in social settings with designated tasks, such as schools and group homes.
ABA is intended to change people’s behavior. This can refer to skill-building (e.g. playing alone, maintaining eye contact, or scoring a three-pointer in basketball), as well as to behavior reduction (e.g. tantrums in reaction to changed routines or extensive watching of TV).
ABA is based on the premise that behavior is determined by the environment. How a person behaves in a particular situation depends on the antecedent situation preceding the behavior, the consequence following the behavior, as well as the person’s history of learning. By changing the antecedent situation or the consequence, a behavior can be changed. Alternative behaviors, such as asking one’s parents for help instead of throwing a tantrum or playing independently instead of running through the apartment, can be established and reliably triggered.
ABA works based on the following procedure:
- Observation of Behavior: Which behavior is occurring? What does it look like?
- Analysis of Behavior: What is preceding the behavior? Which purpose does the behavior serve? How can the behavior be changed?
- Intervention: A target behavior is changed by the use of the principles of reinforcement (preferable behavior leads to positive consequences), extinction (problem behavior leads to no consequences anymore) and shaping (new alternative behaviors is built up gradually).
- Ongoing Data Collection: Progress is measured objectively, and targets are continuously reviewed.
- Maintenance and Generalization: The new target behavior (the new skill or the alternative behavior supposed to replace the problem behavior) is transferred to the natural environment in order to ensure its continuance in everyday life.
ABA as a science is organized by the BACB® (Behavior Analysis Certification Board). The BACB regulates the quality of practioners by awarding certification (BCBA® - Board Certified Behavior Analyst) for a certain level of training and skill. A BCBA has completed a thorough theory training, at least 1500 hours of practical work, as well as received 75 hours of direct supervision. The BACB holds all its certificants to a code of ethical and professional conduct.
ABA is very intuitive, easy to understand, and the application of its techniques can be taught quickly. Once properly instructed, parents and caregivers can use the strategies independently.
ABA is highly flexible and can be applied to all behavior. By using the strategies and techniques, parents and other caregivers will know how to react in a variety of situations.
Targets are defined objectively, and data collection is always ongoing. This guarantees that small steps of progress are noticed and can be shown to parents and caregivers, which boosts motivation for further change.