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What is ABA? (11 Things to Know!)

The technical definition of ABA is: “Applied Behavior Analysis is the science in which procedures derived from principles of behavior are systematically applied to improve socially significant behavior to a  meaningful degree and to demonstrate experimentally that the procedures employed were responsible for the improvement in behavior”. (Cooper, Heron, and Heward, 1987)

Applied: Important to those involved AND/OR to society.

Behavior: Has to be something observable. Anything a dead man cannot do (walking, running, sitting, eating, dressing).

Analysis: Demonstrates a relationship between the changes made to the environment and the behavior.

11 Important things to know about ABA

  • ABA is a scientific approach to change behavior.
  • ABA does not mean 1:1 discrete trial instruction only.
  • ABA can be used 1:1 and in groups.
  • ABA is a broad umbrella of teaching methodologies and intervention methods.
  • ABA can be broken down into three basic teaching methodologies for children with Autism and related developmental disabilities:
    (i) discrete trial teaching (DTT)
    (ii) incidental teaching (IT)
    (iii) Verbal behavior teaching (VB)
  • ABA uses consequences (reinforcement and punishment) to change behavior.
  • ABA is used in schools, homes, communities, workplaces, hospitals, etc.
  • ABA can be used with ANYONE.
  • ABA is most commonly known as a concept used with individuals diagnosed with the Autism Spectrum.
  • ABA is NOT a book, table, some candy, and an ASD student.
  • ABA is what you are already doing every day with everyone you come in contact with.

To learn more about ABA and its history visit Special Learning online and download the e-book ABA Overview: Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis.

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Parent Waitlist Program


November 02, 2023 | 12pm-1pm PDT

Journey to Independence

Community-based program designed to support families on waitlist

Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

Mother Child
Special Learning’s Free Hotline

This is an independent SL Hotline that is part of our VCAT service. This hotline has no connection with any other association or membership group.

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