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What is ABA?

What is Applied Behavior Analysis and Verbal Behavior and why is it so beneficial in working with children with Autism?

Applied Behavior Analysis

Many are familiar with “Behavior Modification” and utilizing the basic principle of behavior analysis to reduce inappropriate or maladaptive behaviors. There is no doubt that ABA can be very effective in manage tantrums, physical aggression or other behavioral excesses. However, B.F. Skinner’s understanding of ABA was much more extensive. Skinner believed ABA to be a Science of Learning. In this comprehensive view, Applied Behavior Skinner’s greatest benefit is actually increasing behaviors. In addressing behavior deficits we can use the basic principle of ABA to assist a student in reducing the inappropriate behavior and in increasing communication, learning and appropriate social behavior. This Science of Learning facilitates a Technology of Teaching and the body of research from various journals in Applied Behavior Analysis instructs how we can teach skills more effectively. After decades of research, the United States Surgeon General has endorsed ABA as the most effective intervention for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities.

The Analysis of Verbal Behavior

B.F. Skinner’s analysis of human behavior also included Verbal Behavior, or communication. Skinner deduced that Verbal Behavior occurs for the same reasons all other forms of behavior occurs. In analyzing the conditions under which we speak, Skinner gave us a look at language from a functional perspective. This is why the understanding of the functional relations, which govern Verbal Behavior, can be so beneficial in teaching communication skills to individuals who have language deficits.

ABA and Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism is classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, under Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD). Basically there are areas of development such as social skills, communication, etc. that children with Autism are deficient. These lack of skills are considered as behavioral deficits. This is why Applied Behavior Analysis can be so successful in the acquisition and development of these skills. Autism is also characterized by the presence of maladaptive and stereotyped behaviors. These behaviors often are manifested because of the insufficiency of appropriate skill development or the ability to access appropriate reinforcement. Teaching the appropriate alternative behaviors can aid in the reduction of the inappropriate behaviors. Applied Behavior Analysis approaches these behavior excess and behavior deficits as a balance in continuously shaping behaviors. Selecting certain behaviors for reduction and selecting specific replacement behaviors for acquisition.