What are the ABCs of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)?

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If you’re new to the world of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. In this blog post, we’ll give you a quick introduction to the basics of ABA and explain why it’s such an effective treatment for Autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

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What is ABA?

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a scientific approach to understanding behavior and how it affects learning. ABA uses a variety of techniques to increase desired behaviors and decrease undesired behaviors.

The “ABCs” of ABA refer to the three main elements of this approach:

A – Antecedent: The events or circumstances that happen before a behavior.

B – Behavior: The actual behavior that is displayed.

C – Consequence: The events or circumstances that happen after a behavior.

The Components of ABA

Applied Behavior Analysis is made up of four main components: Discrete Trial Training, Natural Environment Training, Verbal Behavior, and Generalization. These components work together to help individuals with autism learn new skills and reduce problem behaviors.


The antecedent is what happens before the behavior occurs. It may be a cue, such as a verbal command, or an environmental trigger, such as a child being in proximity to a toy. The purpose of specifying the antecedent is to identify what sets the occasion for the problem behavior to occur.


In ABA, behavior is defined as any action that an individual can do (e.g., speaking, waving, jumping) and includes both overt behaviors (i.e., observable) and covert behaviors (i.e., not observable). overt behaviors are those that can be directly observed by others, while covert behaviors can only be observed by the individual himself/herself (e.g., thoughts, feelings).

The focus on behavior in ABA is due to the fact that it is measurable and observable, which makes it an ideal target for intervention. Additionally, research has shown that behavior is malleable and can be changed through the use of different interventions.


Consequence is what happens immediately after the behavior. There are two types of consequences, positive and negative. Applied behavior analysts use both of these consequence types to increase or decrease the likelihood of a behavior being repeated.

-Positive reinforcement happens when a behavior is followed by something desirable. The goal is for the behavior to be repeated in order to get the reward again.
-Negative reinforcement happens when a behavior is followed by the removal of an undesired event or circumstance. The goal is for the behavior to be repeated in order to avoid or escape the undesired event.
-One type of positive punishment is called an aversive. Aversives are any unpleasant stimuli that are used in an attempt to decrease undesirable behaviors.
-Another type of negative punishment is called removal of reinforcement. This happens when a desirable stimulus is removed after an undesirable behavior occurs. The goal is for the desirable stimulus to be associated with better behaved so that it will be more likely to occur again in the future.

The Benefits of ABA

ABA is a scientific approach to understanding and changing human behavior. ABA focuses on the principles that explain how behavior works, and uses these principles to change behavior.

ABA has been proven to be effective in changing a wide variety of behaviors in people of all ages, from young children to adults. ABA has been used to help People With Autism Down syndrome, intellectual disabilities, Tourette syndrome, ADD/ADHD, anxiety disorders, depression, substance abuse disorders, and more.

ABA is an individualized approach. This means that each person’s treatment plan is customized to meet their specific needs. ABA also uses a system of positive reinforcement to rewards desired behaviors and discourage undesired behaviors.

The benefits of ABA are numerous. Some of the most well-established benefits of ABA include:

-Increased communication and social skills
-Improved academic performance
-Reduced problem behaviors
-Improved self-care skills

The Limitations of ABA

ABA has been shown to be an effective intervention for children with autism but it is not a cure. ABA cannot address all of the challenges associated with autism, and it is not appropriate for every child with autism. ABA is most effective when it is started early, when a child is first diagnosed with autism. However, ABA can be beneficial for children of all ages.

There are also some limitations to consider when using ABA as an intervention. Applied behavior analysis focuses on observable and measurable behaviors, but does not address cognitive or emotional functioning. ABA also requires a highly structured and disciplined environment, which may not be possible or desirable in all settings. Finally, ABA is time-consuming and expensive, and may not be accessible to all families.

How to get Started with ABA

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is a type of treatment that helps children with autism and other developmental disabilities. It is based on the principles of behaviorism, which state that behavior can be learned and changed.

ABA therapy focuses on teaching new skills and helping children to make positive changes in their behavior. Therapists use a variety of techniques to do this, including:

-Positive reinforcement: This is when children are rewarded for displaying desired behaviors. For example, a child might be given a sticker after completing a task.
-Negative reinforcement: This is when children are given relief from an unpleasant stimulus after displaying desired behaviors. For example, a child might be allowed to stop wearing uncomfortable clothing after putting on their own socks.
-Extinction: This is when children are no longer given reinforcement for undesired behaviors. For example, a child might no longer be allowed to watch television if they throw tantrums.

ABA therapy is individualized to meet the needs of each child. Treatment plans are created based on the child’s specific goals and objectives. therapist works with the child and their caregivers to implement the plan.

If you think your child could benefit from ABA therapy talk to your doctor or contact a local provider for more information.