What is ABA?

ABA stands for Applied Behavior Analysis and is based on the science of learning and behavior, with principles that form the basis for many behavioral treatments. The principles and methods of behavior analysis have been applied effectively in many circumstances to develop a wide range of skills in children with ASD. A few types of therapies based on ABA principles include: discrete trial teaching, incidental teaching (or natural environment teaching), verbal behavior, and pivotal response training. ABA is considered an evidence-based best practice treatment by the US Surgeon General, American Psychological Association, and the National Autism Center. Evidence-based means that ABA has passed scientific tests of its usefulness, quality, and effectiveness.

Focused ABA programs refer to treatment provided to the client for a limited number of behavioral targets. This may involve increasing socially appropriate behavior or reducing challenging behavior. Focused ABA treatment goals are appropriate for children who need treatment only for a limited number of key functional skills or behaviors or have acute problem behavior in which treatment should be the priority. In a focused program, no more than three goals are worked at a give time. Intervention tends to run 10-15 hours per week. Specific targets might be toilet training, behavior reduction, or social skills training.The goal is to address a single concern and will not address all the learners global needs.

What are the components of a high quality ABA program?

Supervision - the program should be designed and monitored by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA). Supervisors should have extensive experience working with children with ASD.

  • Staff Training - all staff should be fully trained, with the BCBA/BCaBA supervisor providing support, monitoring, and ongoing training for the duration of the child’s ABA program.
  • Comprehensive Assessment - assesses baseline levels (before treatment starts) and serves as the basis for measurable treatment goals and objectives.
  • Programming -  after a detailed assessment has been conducted, program should be created and individualized to your child’s specific deficits and skills. Family and child preferences should be taken into consideration when determining treatment goals.
  • Data Collection - data on skill acquisition and behavior reduction (i.e., challenging behavior) should be collected and analyzed regularly to maximize and maintain progress toward treatment goals. Supervisors review and analyze data graphs to measure whether the child is making progress with the identified treatment goals. If desired outcomes are not produced, a change to the treatment plan will be systematically implemented and evaluated to ensure effectiveness.
  • Parent Training - family members should receive training in order to facilitate their child’s learning, to promote optimal functioning, and to ensure generalization and maintenance of behavioral improvements.

What is the difference between comprehensive and focused ABA programs?

Comprehensive ABA programs refer to the treatment of multiple affected developmental domains, such as cognitive, communicative, social, emotional, and adaptive functioning. Maladaptive behaviors (e.g., stereotypy, noncompliance, tantrums, etc) are also typically a focus of the treatment. Comprehensive ABA programs tend to range from 25-40 hours of one-to-one treatment per week, direct and indirect supervision, and parent training. These programs provide a complete treatment plan for the child to encompass all learning areas (e.g. language, communication, social skills, play skills, self-help, daily living skills, academics, and behavior concerns).

Where are ABA programs delivered?

Treatment across multiple settings, adults, and siblings supports generalization and maintenance of treatment gains, while also fostering relationships within the family. As we specialize in working with young children with ASD, we conduct the majority of teaching opportunities in the natural environment. Children learn through play, and we believe that learning should be flexible, follow the child’s motivation, and be fun! Staff work hard to create opportunities to teach through the following activities: science, art, music and movement, snacktime, behavior fit (i.e., exercise), and play.