General information

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)
What is ABA?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) uses an understanding of why behavior occurs to address a wide range of social issues, including helping individuals to learn. Like other applied sciences, ABA can be applied to a range of populations and settings (e.g., business and industry, education, gerontology, healthcare) and to a range of social concerns (e.g., anxieties, depression, phobia, addiction, behaviors associated with autism).

What distinguishes ABA from other disciplines?

Applied Behavior Analysis focuses on behavior (not theoretical constructs). It uses laws of behavior that have been experimentally demonstrated, and it uses clearly defined procedures to specify how to change behavior. The primary focus of ABA is on behavior that is important to individuals, in terms of enabling them to lead more fulfilling lives.

ABA employs teaching where the objectives of intervention are to teach your child those skills that will facilitate his development and help him achieve the greatest degree of independence and the highest quality of life possible.  Although many different techniques comprise ABA the primary instructional method is called Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT).  DTT involves breaking a skill into smaller parts, teaching one sub-skill at a time until mastery, allowing repeated practice in a concentrated period of time, providing prompting and fading as necessary and using reinforcement procedures.

Is all ABA the same?

This is a complicated issue. While all ABA may be founded on the same foundational principles, all ABA is not alike.  There is tremendous variation from those approaches that are extremely rigid, protocol driven, and adherent to a set of pre-determined rules, regardless of the child, to those approaches that are lackadaisical and without any structure, and a range of approaches falling somewhere in between.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) can take a variety of different forms depending upon the individual or agency providing the service.  In addition to the skill level of the provider, there are technical and stylistic differences in implementation. Approaches range from those that are dogmatic and rigid, to unstructured. Autism Partnership’s over forty-five years of clinical and research experience shows the most effective option is a careful balance of flexibility while still retaining the essence of a systematic, empirical approach to teaching that is individually tailored for each child.

Early behavioral practitioners were often perceived to be too rigid and punitive. And sadly, even today, there are behaviorists who continue to use highly artificial and unnatural teaching strategies.  This has led to a wave of clinicians who distanced themselves from traditional methods. They’ve even created new terminology to make the therapy more appealing to parents and teachers.

Why is Autism Partnership different?

What makes Autism Partnership different from other agencies is that we focus on building strong learning foundations.  If children have disruptive and interfering behaviors it is extremely difficult for them to learn.  Therefore we must concentrate our efforts on teaching them essential skills so that we can truly build upon their abilities to learn.  Teaching children “how to learn” is essential.  Tragically, building a strong foundation is often neglected.

However, without a strong behavioral foundation it is extremely difficult to teach critical skills such as communication, social and play skills. Of course, it takes hard work on everyone’s part. Skilled professionals conducting effective intervention, schools providing appropriate education and well-trained teachers, and parents providing love and support to become experts in their own right, are all important players in the partnership. Our approach to intervention applies sound teaching principles of learning to help children succeed. Improvement is simply not enough. Our children and their families deserve the highest quality of life.

The Autism Partnership Method

  • Develop strong and natural reinforcers so that learning can easily transfer to the real world.  When children are motivated by activities, social interaction, and the desire to learn, one does not have to rely upon artificial reinforcers.
  • Helping children so that they learn not only in 1:1 situations but in small and large groups
  • Helping children learn in natural settings, full of the types distractions that occur in schools and in the community.  With a strong foundation of learning how to learn, it simply is not necessary to use the typical accommodations for removing distractions and utilizing artificial cues
  • Focusing on the whole child: not only is communication and academics important but teaching children the skills so that they can develop meaningful and long lasting relationships.  This includes developing relationship and play skills.
  • Teaching children the skills so that they can become truly independent.  Learning how to monitor their own behaviors is essential for maximizing quality of life
  • Recognizing the need to provide counseling services for children, siblings and parents
  • Providing therapy in natural forms so that children develop natural language
  • Working with toddlers, adolescents and adults of all functioning levels
  • Training parents, teachers, and family members the necessary skills so that they can facilitate success