WHAT IS APPLIED BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS?
APPLIED BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS (ABA)
ABA is the systematic application of interventions to produce a socially significant gain. For an intervention to be considered ABA, it has to meet seven criteria (dimensions). ABA is not a strategy or group of interventions, but rather, it is the application of interventions (some created within the field of ABA and some not) to make desired gains. What is awesome about ABA is that being effective is within the definition. So when applied correctly, it has to work!
ABA AND AUTISM
For better AND worse, ABA and autism are linked. If you are at this website, you probably know all the endorsements of ABA for effective autism treatment based on established research, so I won't drone on and on. Many advocates worked incredibly hard to get health insurance companies to cover ABA, which was only mandated in Ohio in 2017. However, ABA used to decrease the symptoms of autism can create negative side effects. Autistic teens and adults discuss the detrimental effects of constantly trying to hide their symptoms. At Community Behavior Consulting, we do not focus on decreasing the signs of autism, we work with each person to develop goals to increase their happiness. We also think it is imperative that children with autism receive a wide variety of evidence-based therapies, not just ABA.
USES OF ABA
ABA is used in a wide variety of industries. The principles of ABA were developed working with adults with developmental disabilities and eventually the research was transferred to classrooms and children with autism. ABA methodology is the basis of Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), two widely established interventions in schools. ABA is used in clinical mental health, addiction treatment, gambling, gerontology, organizational behavior management, and more. The prevalence of ABA for children with autism can be linked to funding sources only covering ABA for autism.
In the state of Ohio, only certified practitioners, Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) can practice ABA. Schools can use the principles of ABA in their interventions as well. It is incredibly important when seeking out ABA treatment that your are working with a certified provider. Additionally, over half of the world's BCBAs have been certified after 2016. That means that most ABA providers have less than 5 years experience, which could impact the quality of services.
AMOUNT OF ABA
When a child is diagnosed with autism, parents often walk away with a recommendation for up to 40 hours a week of ABA. The reason for this is due to the research on implementing ABA interventions all day long. When consistently applied, ABA contributes to incredible gains. However, there are ways to see those gains with less treatment hours and more parent, teacher, and caregiver training. Recent research has revealed that the effects of 15 hours a week of ABA and 25 hours a week are nearly identical. This is important because a child does not need to be in a clinic for forty hours a week. Instead, an experienced BCBA can develop quality programming in a variety of settings so children do not miss out on opportunities.
LOCATION OF SERVICES
The answer here is simple, ABA can happen anywhere. We have developed and implemented ABA programming in homes, schools, churches, daycares, offices, garages, on the baseball field, etc. Working in clinic helps establish the necessary prerequisite skills to be successful, but clinic only services should not be forever. With quality parent, caregiver, and teacher training, positive effects multiply.