Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a therapy commonly known to be used with people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. ABA therapy has been used effectively to support people with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental and intellectual disabilities for over 50 years. This therapy is based on the science of behavior and learning that helps us to understand how behavior works, how the environment affects behavior, and how learning takes place. This is a flexible therapy that can and should be adapted to meet the needs of each individual. It takes a systematic approach to meeting goals so the individual can experience success at each step towards the ultimate goal.
The following are examples of skills can be supported by ABA therapy:
- Social interaction
- Play skills
- Functional communication
- Leisure activities
- Self-help and adaptive skills
- Gross & fine motor play
- Daily living activities
Applied Behavior Analysis therapy can be provided in various locations such as the home, at school, and in the community. It can involve one-to-one teaching or group instruction, which can be beneficial to improve social interactions.
The goal of any ABA program is to help each person work on skills that will help them become more independent and successful in the short-term as well contribute to long-term success. Because of this, good ABA programs for autism are not “one size fits all.”
In addition to autism, ABA has also been proven to be an effective treatment component for a host of challenges related to other diagnoses. Other examples of conditions that often benefit from ABA plus other therapies include:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (helps interrupt impulsivity, supports self-regulation, and teaches strategies for organization and staying on-task)
- Generalized anxiety disorder (teaches coping strategies and self-regulation skills)
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (helps by disrupting compulsive patterns of behavior)
- Oppositional defiant disorder (provides routine, consistency, and clear expectations to promote positive behaviors)
- Panic disorder (helps by developing strategies to prevent and cope with symptoms)
- Traumatic brain injury survivors (supports survivors by re-teaching skills including planning, emotional regulation, and self-monitoring)
The most notable advantages of ABA therapy for behavioral health conditions include an individualized approach, systematic assessment and intervention for goals important to the individual and their caretakers, and the methods for evaluating success and trouble-shooting adjustments to treatment when needed.