Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the systematic implementation of techniques derived from the basic research of behavior and the scientific principles of behavior that have been found during the course of those studies. Essentially, behavior analysts study behavior-environment relations, both what precedes and follows behavior. The focus is on increasing appropriate behavior and teaching new skills. Behavior analysts work and conduct research in a variety of settings (e.g., educational settings, clinical settings, business settings, etc.) and with diverse populations (e.g., autism spectrum disorders, other developmental disabilities, people with everyday problems, animals, etc.).
Positive reinforcement is the most widely applied principle of behavior and can be applied to all of human behavior. It is one of the most important concepts upon which the technology of behavior change is built. An essential part of ABA is data collection. Because behavior is dynamic and on going, behavior analysts need a way to maintain contact with it. Behavior analysts frequently measure changes in behavior and choose measurement systems appropriate to the behavior, the student, and the situation. This direct measurement provides an on-going assessment of the child's performance."
Presently, the only intervention demonstrated to be effective in helping children with special needs is based upon applied behavior analytic systems and strategies. There are now literally hundreds of reports published in peer reviewed journals supporting the efficacy of ABA to teach individuals with autism spectrum disorders.
Children with spectrum disorders typically have substantial impairment in the areas of speech and language, social skills and even play skills. Because of these impairments, these children may engage in undesirable behavior. Using ABA, a behavior analyst will work with these children to promote positive behavior while modifying and eliminating the stereo-typical and/or undesirable behavior that the child presents.