First it would be important to know what is ABA. ABA stands for Applied Behavioral Analysis. It was developed by renowned psychologist B.F. Skinner. As its name implies, it is the analysis of behavior, and that is the key to the method. ABA uses scientific methods to track and observe behavior. Analysts develop tools to measure and quantify clearly observable behavior. For example, a behavior analyst might want to help reduce or eliminate tantrum behavior of a child. The analyst may choose to measure the amount of times a child throws an item per hour. The data is recorded in real time and eventually it is graphed so that it can be visually viewed. Data is taken of a particular behavior before any intervention, and then again after the intervention. The behavior is charted to see what result if any was due to the intervention. If it was successful we would see a reduction in the behavior.
Behavior Analysis differs from other disciplines of psychology in that it focuses on clearly observable and quantifiable behavior, as opposed to traditional psychology that focuses on the mental aspects. This doesn’t mean it is better or worse than other forms of therapy. However it has particularly been proven to be effective with Autism, and thus most of ABA practices focus on treating Autism. This doesn’t mean that ABA isn’t effective for other diagnoses, for example it is a very effective method for teaching, however since it is particularly effective with Autism, it has become a major treatment component of Autism.
Its important not to get the impression that ABA is only there to reduce or eliminate problem behavior. In fact much of ABA therapy consists of helping clients acquire life skills, from learning to talk, learning to focus, learning to read, and learning how to learn. Typically when a child is able to better communicate and function the problem behavior greatly diminishes as well, so in fact it goes hand in hand.
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