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Applied Behavioral Analysis

What is ABA?

Applied Behavior Analysis is based in learning theory, which states in essence that the consequences of a particular behavior influence whether that behavior will occur again. It includes the design, implementation and evaluation of techniques to understand and improve behavior. In children with autism, it is used to teach skills, minimize problem behaviors, and enhance language, play and social skills.

Over 30 years of validated and peer-reviewed research support the efficacy of Applied Behavior Analysis programs for children with autism.

In these programs, the goal is to increase skills in language, play and socialization, while decreasing behaviors that interfere with learning. The results can be profound. Children with autism who have ritualistic or self-injurious behaviors reduce or eliminate these behaviors. They establish eye contact. They learn to stay on task. Finally, the children acquire the ability and the desire to learn and to do well. Even if the child does not achieve a “best outcome” result of normal functioning levels in all areas, nearly all autistic children benefit from intensive ABA programs.

It is important to understand that Applied Behavior Analysis programs are not an instantaneous cure for autism. There is a saying that miracles take a lot of hard work, and that is certainly true in this case. Some children may make rapid progress in the program, while progress is slower for others. As some behaviors improve, new, more challenging behaviors may surface. Especially in the beginning stages of the program, a child’s behaviors may actually worsen in response to the program’s behavior strategies (sometimes called an “extinction burst”) before tapering off. A few children may only require therapy for a year or two, but the majority will likely need the program for three to five years. For some children, the program will be needed beyond that timeframe.

As parents ourselves, LA FEAT understands the difficult road you are embarking on when deciding on an ABA program for your child. In this section, we hope to familiarize you with some of the fundamental ABA concepts, summarize the landmark research studies on ABA, help you to discern which programs provide the quality, research-based services for which we are advocating, and provide a guide to finding the right ABA provider for your child, if this is the path you choose to take.


ABA information on this site:

Components of a Quality Program

ABA for Autism by Dr. Gina Green

Independent Reviews of ABA

ASIG Guidelines


Disclaimer: Everything contained herein is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be misconstrued as legal, medical, or any other type of professional advice. Nothing contained herein is intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from your own medical and legal professionals. LA FEAT makes no promises, guarantees or implied agreements as to the accuracy or completeness of anything contained or referenced to herein, or how such may affect your family. Please seek out your own professional advice before making any decisions concerning your child.