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What is ABA?

Posted by on in Behavior Analysis
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Do you like to reward yourself? I know I do. A hot, foamy latte sounds good right now, but first, I have to tell you about ABA. Perhaps I can enjoy one afterward because it would be very reinforcing to me.

I just illustrated the concept of reinforcement, which is a key component of ABA. Well, what is ABA, you ask? ABA, which stands for Applied Behavior Analysis, is the application of the science of behavior (behavior analysis). It is commonly associated with autism spectrum disorders because it is a widely used and effective treatment for autism although its effectiveness is not limited to the treatment of autism. ABA employs the concept of reinforcement to modify behavior. The goals of ABA in the treatment of autism are to eliminate or reduce behavior that interferes with learning, increase eye contact and develop social skills, play skills and language.what is aba

Applied Behavior Analysis

How is it possible for ABA to modify behavior? Here's what is known about behavior. Behavior is learned and it is used to get something or avoid something. It is observable, meaning it can be seen and/or heard, and it is measurable, therefore it can be described and defined. This is illustrated with the ABC's of behavior, Antecedent, Behavior, and Consequence. An antecedent is anything that precedes a behavior and consequence is anything that follows a behavior.


Antecedent: Therapist places a paper and pencil on the table in front of Johnny. He is told to draw a circle.

Behavior: Johnny sweeps it onto the floor.

Consequence: Johnny is given a break from work.

Johnny was attempting to avoid the task and he was successful because he was given a break. His behavior was reinforced, which means he is likely to do it again maybe even with greater frequency. Reinforcement is a crucial part of ABA. It is a reward that motivates an individual to perform a specific task. We found out that Johnny likes to avoid work, but let's say we heard that he also really likes the iPad. Round two: this time Johnny is working for the iPad.

Antecedent: Therapist places a paper and pencil on the table in front of Johnny. He is told to draw a circle.

Behavior: Johnny draws a circle.

Consequence: Johnny is given two minutes with the iPad.

Once again, Johnny's behavior was reinforced. The desired behavior was this time. The iPad was a more valuable reinforcer to him than a break; therefore he was motivated to work for it. This is an example of Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT), which is one way to use ABA, but ABA is certainly not limited to this type of teaching. It can be used in more natural settings as well. The opportunities to utilize ABA are nearly endless.

Congratulations, you now know some basic concepts of ABA. You may now have your reinforcer, and I'll enjoy my latte.


©Copyright 2012 by The Shape of Behavior | All Rights Reserved
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  • Guest
    Diana Melgar Friday, 07 September 2012

    Great Job Audrey!! Very informative! Keep it up :)

  • Guest
    Jack Cravy Friday, 07 September 2012

    She's doing a fantastic job! Go Audrey!

  • Guest
    Amy Veenendaal Sunday, 09 September 2012

    Audrey, I love the personality and information you brought to this entry! Great work! I look forward to reading more of your posts!

  • Guest
    Dr. Dom Wednesday, 12 September 2012

    I always bring parents and staff back to the basic building blocks of the ABC's of ABA! If they truly grasp the power of being able to isolate antecedents, behaviors, and consequences in daily life and get the concept of providing reinforcment as a consequene to desirable behaviors (B) and dont waste any time on providing reinforcement for undersirable or junk behaviors (B), then their LIFE will be forever changed! This even includes in day to day relationships with bosses, co workers, your child, your childs teacher. GOOD ABCs are just GOOD quality of life! I know it may appear simple, but really it has a VERY profound impact.

  • Guest
    Don Williams Monday, 15 October 2012

    Audrey does a great job and a real service in writing her blog. She hits the nail on the head.

  • Guest
    Audrey Borges Monday, 05 November 2012

    Thank you for all the support! I look forward to writing more.

  • Guest
    Vancouver psychologist Thursday, 28 February 2013

    First of all thanks Audrey for sharing with us such valuable information.You write so well keep it up.

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