What is Applied Behavior (ABA) Analysis Therapy?

What is Applied Behavior (ABA) Analysis Therapy?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a type of therapeutic intervention that can improve social, communication, and learning skills through reinforcement techniques. In addition to improving general adaptive behaviours, such as social skills, learning skills, it can focus on specific skill learning such as fine motor dexterity, hygiene, grooming, etc. Some also call it Autism Behavioural Therapy but it’s just one of ABA’s applications. ABA is effective for both children and adults with psychological conditions in a variety of settings, including schools, homes, and clinics. It has also been shown that consistent ABA therapy can significantly improve positive skills and behaviours and decrease the need for special services in the future

ABA therapy programs can help:

● Improve language and communication skills

● Increase attention, focus, social skills, memory, and academics

● Reduce the occurrence of behavioural problems

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a type of therapy based on the psychology of learning and behavioural trades. ABA therapy applies the understanding of how behaviour works in real-life situations, to increase behaviours that are helpful and decrease behaviours that are harmful or affect learning. Applied Behavior Analysis involves several techniques for understanding and changing behaviour. ABA is a form of flexible treatment that can be adapted to meet the needs of each unique person. It can also be provided in many different locations – at home, at school, and in the community. ABA therapy can involve one-to-one teaching or group instruction ABA therapy programs can help:

A qualified behavioural psychologist designs and directly oversees the program. They customize the ABA program to the child’s skills, needs, interests, preferences, and family circumstances. The ABA program is started with a detailed assessment of the child’s existing skills and preferences in order to formulate specific treatment goals. Treatment goals are decided after taking into consideration the age and ability level of the child with autism. Goals can include different skill areas, such as:

● Communication and language

● Social skills

● Self-care behaviours

● Play and leisure

● Motor skills

Learning and academic skills

The instruction plan breaks down each of these skills 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). Progress is measured by collecting data in each therapy session. Data helps to monitor the child’s progress toward goals on an ongoing basis.

The therapist egularly meets with family members to review information about progress in order to plan ahead and adjust teaching plans and goals accordingly.

5 Techniques Used in Applied Behaviour Analysis

Applied Behavior Analysis involves several techniques to produce desired results in children who can benefit from behaviour modification. Here are five of those valuable techniques:

Positive Reinforcement

A child with special needs who face difficulties in learning or social interaction may not know how to respond in certain situations. One way to encourage positive social behaviours involves using positive reinforcement immediately to encourage the behavior in the future.

Negative Reinforcement

When maladaptive behaviours occur, the behavior needs to be corrected immediately. A good way to correct bad behavior is to remove a desired object or activity from the child. This is a form of non-aversive punishment. More importantly, negative reinforcement should be consistent for the child to understand the relevance of the action and consequence.

Using prompts and cues

Prompts are visual or verbal cues used to encourage a particular behaviour. Verbal cues are gentle reminders while visual cues are even less direct and might be a gesture or a look of your eyes. The child will see this cue and be reminded to behave in a simple way. Examples could be taking their shoes off when walking into the house or washing their hands before a meal. The idea is to eventually fade out the prompts when the child no longer needs them. The prompts can be helpful because they are typically not intimidating or accusatory.

Task Analysis

This is an analysis model of current behavioural trends and actions to help learn about the child rather than correct or reinforce the behaviour. The child psychologist gives the child a task and observes how they perform it. This analysis is broken down into a number of categories :

● Physical actions

● Cognitive actions

● Repetition

● Allocation

● Environment

Once the therapist has analysed how the child performs tasks, this information is used to make other tasks easier for the particular child by breaking them down into steps that will be easily understood by the child.


Through this model, the therapist takes what the child has learned in one instance and applies it to other instances. For example, If a child knows how to say the alphabet when singing it, the child psychologist can take their knowledge of the alphabet and try to apply it to teaching the child to spell out their name.

Children with special needs benefit the most from personalized and special assistance. Therapists who use applied behaviour analysis use these particular techniques and others that help make children who need a little more help independent, well adjusted and happy adults.