What Is ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), And How Does It Work?

Dr. McGee answers the question: 'What Is ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis)?'

ByABC News
October 7, 2008, 12:47 PM

Oct. 23, 2008 -- Question: What is ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), and how does it work?

Answer: The term ABA stands for Applied Behavior Analysis. It's an approach that was derived from learning theory. In ABA, a socially significant behavior is targeted, such as a child learning to make request. And then an environmental alteration is introduced, such as teaching instructions and a reward for a correct response. And then the change in the targeted behavior is objectively measured.

With ABA approaches, in intervention of children with autism, it's usually important to begin by using tangible rewards that are highly preferred by the individual child. The reason for this is children with autistic disorders are not as responsive to social attention as a typically developing child would be and therefore tangible rewards become crucial to them learning at their optimal pace.