What Is Applied Behaviour Analysis?
Behaviour Analysis is simply the science of how behaviour works.
Applied Behaviour Analysis uses that science and creates programmes to make socially significant changes in peoples lives.
ABA is used in many settings from developmental delays through to the workplace. It is used for all behaviours, which means language, fine motor, gross motor, academic skills, and social skills just to name a few.
The effectiveness of ABA
Many decades of research have validated the efficacy of ABA. The Report of the MADSEC Autism Task Force (2000) provides a succinct description, put together by an independent body of experts. Over the past 30 years, several thousand published research studies have documented the effectiveness of ABA across a wide range of:
- Populations, including children and adults with mental illness, developmental disabilities and learning disorders.
- Interventionists, including parents, teachers and other professionals.
- Settings, including schools, homes, institutions, group homes, hospitals and in the work place.
- Behaviours, including language (which is a learned behaviour), social skills, academic performance and the acquisition of appropriate and healthy behaviour patterns.
Treatment approaches grounded in ABA are now considered to be at the forefront of therapeutic and educational interventions for children with autism. The large amount of scientific evidence supporting ABA treatments for children with autism have led a number of other independent bodies to endorse the effectiveness of ABA, including the U.S. Surgeon General, the New York State Department of Health, the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Pediatrics (see reference list below for sources).
Applied behaviour analysis is the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of behaviour analysis to improve socially significant behaviours to a meaningful degree, and to demonstrate that the interventions employed are responsible for the improvement in behaviour (Baer, Wolf & Risley, 1968; Sulzer-Azaroff & Mayer, 1991). “Socially significant behaviours” include any behaviour that is important for that individual, family and situation. Each family has different needs and priorities, which ABA can address to satisfy your unique situation.
ABA is an objective discipline. ABA focuses on the reliable measurement and objective evaluation of observable behaviour. Reliable measurement requires that behaviours are defined objectively. Vague terms such as anger, depression, aggression or tantrums are redefined in observable and quantifiable terms, so their frequency, duration or other measurable properties can be directly recorded (Sulzer-Azaroff & Mayer, 1991). For example, “Initiating social interaction with peers” might be defined as: “looking at classmate and saying, “Hello.”
ABA interventions require a demonstration of the events that are responsible for the occurrence, or non-occurrence, of behaviour. ABA uses methods of analysis that yield convincing, reproducible, and conceptually sensible demonstrations of how to accomplish specific behaviour changes (Baer & Risley, 1987). Moreover, these behaviours are evaluated within relevant settings such as schools, homes and the community.
Did you know?
ABA is not currently practiced on the NHS in spite that is now widely recognised as the most effective way of teaching children with autism and other developmental delays, as well as children with behavioural problems or language and communication difficulties. However, 2012 is seeing some NHS Institutions and government organisations recruit behaviour analysts.
The next steps...
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