by Jaime Friedman
November 09, 2023
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a scientifically proven approach to understanding and modifying behavior. It is instrumental for treating autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and similar conditions. Using research, at Aspire Child and Family Services, we are committed to providing the highest quality ABA therapy to children and families. We hope to present a clearer picture of the services involved as we delve into the core ABA principles that are present across different intervention strategies.
Understanding ABA principles is essential for anyone seeking autism services for the first time. Parents of children who have been recommended for autism testing can begin to learn about the goals of ABA and the general approach an ABA provider might take to address behaviors. Whether your child has already been recommended for services or if you need information specific to your own child, you can contact Aspire Child and Family Services and speak with a member of our staff about the next steps to take.
Seven Dimensions of ABA
There are seven dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis that guide the implementation of ABA principles. Each represents a different factor that helps shape ABA treatment plans universally. These seven dimensions are foundational aspects of ABA principles:
- Applied: ABA interventions must target socially significant behaviors, or behaviors that are meaningful and relevant to the individual and their environment. The intervention must be applicable to the behavior an individual is presenting. The therapists at Aspire work closely with families to identify these critical behaviors.
- Behavioral: ABA is focused on observable behaviors rather than underlying thoughts or emotions. This approach allows us to measure, assess, and modify behavior objectively.
- Analytic: ABA emphasizes data-driven decision-making. Providers collect data regularly to assess the effectiveness of interventions and make necessary adjustments to maximize progress. Research analysis allows ABA providers to offer new solutions with proven effectiveness.
- Technological: ABA interventions are detailed and precise, allowing for replication and consistency. At Aspire, we use standardized procedures to ensure uniformity in our approach. Technology has drastically improved ABA by expanding access to ABA tools, streamlining the testing process, and simplifying the way we share information.
- Conceptually Systematic: ABA practitioners base their interventions on the principles of behavior analysis, ensuring that strategies are grounded in well-established scientific principles. While there is room for variation in ABA treatment, providers still adhere to ABA principles in every case.
- Effective: ABA interventions are designed to produce significant behavior changes. Our goal at Aspire is to achieve meaningful progress in the lives of the children we work with. In ABA, progress is measured on an individual level, so we focus on developing specific skills that can make your child successful.
- Generality: ABA seeks to promote behavior change that extends beyond the therapy setting and into the individual's daily life. Our strategies aim to create lasting, positive change.
For a different perspective on the seven dimensions of ABA, you can find examples and a helpful word association chart in this study guide for providers.
Principles of Behavior
The main principles guiding Applied Behavior Analysis interventions consist of three parts. The Antecedent Behavior Consequence (ABC) Data Model includes the causes and effects of a behavior. Using the “ABCs of ABA,” behavioral and mental health professionals can identify the antecedent, define the behavior, and explain the consequence within a single act.
- Antecedent: This is what happens right before a behavior occurs. Identifying antecedents helps us understand the triggers for specific behaviors, enabling us to modify them effectively.
- Behavior: This is the observable action or response. ABA therapy focuses on present behaviors because it can be measured and modified.
- Consequence: The consequence is what happens immediately after a behavior. At Aspire, we carefully design consequences that encourage positive behaviors and discourage unwanted ones.
Consequences can be positive or negative in the context of ABA principles. We often associate consequences with something negative, but in ABA, consequences are direct results of a behavior. Each behavior has a multitude of possible consequences, but behavioral and mental health professionals use broad definitions of consequences that can be applied in different instances. If you’d like some help keeping track of these terms and their meanings, you can find keywords and definitions in our ABA Glossary of Terms. A few examples of ABA consequences include:
Reinforcement involves the presentation of a stimulus immediately following a behavior, increasing the likelihood of that behavior occurring again. At Aspire, we use positive reinforcement to reward desired behaviors, making them more likely to happen in the future.
Positive reinforcement is a cornerstone of ABA therapy. It involves providing a reward of positive consequence immediately after a desirable behavior to increase the likelihood of that behavior reoccurring in the future. We tailor our reinforcement strategies to the unique preferences and needs of each child. This individualized approach ensures that the reinforcement is motivating and effective.
While reinforcement is about increasing desired behaviors, punishment aims to reduce or eliminate undesirable behaviors. It's essential to approach punishment carefully and ethically. At Aspire, we prioritize positive behavior support and use punishment strategies as a last resort, and in a way that is least restrictive and least intrusive. Our staff is trained to focus on teaching appropriate alternatives to replace unwanted behaviors.
Extinction refers to discontinuing the reinforcement of behaviors. At Aspire, we use extinction judiciously, always ensuring that alternative, more adaptive behaviors are taught to replace the ones being extinguished. An example of a successful outcome involving extinction could include gradually decreasing the reinforcements given to reward a behavior. Over time, the individual can learn to maintain the positive behavior without expecting positive reinforcement.
Aspire Child and Family Services believes Applied Behavior Analysis is essential for providing effective interventions for individuals with autism and other behavioral disorders. The seven dimensions of ABA, along with the principles of behavior, form the foundation of our therapeutic approach. We are dedicated to helping children and families achieve meaningful, lasting behavior change through evidence-based ABA therapy.
For further inquiries about ABA services, please contact us.