What is ABA?


Applied Behavior Analysis, also known as ABA, is based on the science of learning and behavior and provides the foundation for behavioral treatments. ABA is considered an evidence-based “best practice” treatment by the US Surgeon General, American Psychological Association, and many other groups. “Evidence-based” means that ABA has passed scientific tests of its usefulness, quality, and effectiveness.

The federal government and majority of states in the U.S., including California, have passed laws deeming ABA-based treatments “medically necessary” and requiring insurance companies to cover them. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) has recently published a useful document entitled Guidelines for Health Plan Coverage of Applied Behavior Analysis Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Put simply, ABA involves evaluating behavior and using specific interventions to change it. It can be used to increase a variety of important behaviors, such as communication, cognitive, academic, play, social, attention and self-care skills, as well as decrease undesirable behaviors such as tantrumming, aggression, repetitive behavior and self-injury.

ABA requires an understanding of how behavior and learning are impacted by the environment. This is often referred to as the ABCs:

Antecedent >  Behavior>  Consequence

Antecedents (which occur before the behavior) and consequences (which occur after the behavior) are changed so that problem behaviors decrease and desired behaviors increase. 

Quality ABA programs:

  • Identify important behaviors to change that help the child be independent and successful   at home, school and in the community
  • Develop specific and measurable goals
  • Choose appropriate measurement tools
  • Establish behavior baselines (i.e., levels of behavior before treatment began)
  • Design and implement effective interventions
  • Continually measure progress over time
  • Regularly modify interventions based on child performance and data
  • Provide parent education and involve the whole family in treatment
  • Include strategies to ensure maintenance and generalization

 For more information about ABA and how your child can benefit, review Autism Speaks Parent’s Guide to Applied Behavior Analysis and call our office to speak with a Clinical Supervisor.

What They Say

“Dr. Aimee Anderson, Dr. Karen Barbi, and their staff – from Julie in the office to the specific therapists who worked with our daughter – are the best of the best: dedicated, well trained, and caring. They brought the best of both worlds to our family – the most current and up-to-date treatment methods delivered at home, school and camp – given with the utmost care and affection.”