What is ABA?

After studying ABA for many years, I’ll try to give you a quick, simple answer.

ABA stands for Applied Behaviour Analysis. In a nutshell, it is the way we understand behaviour in the context of the environment. It explains why behaviours happen when they do. Those behaviours that happen “out of the blue” or “for no reason at all” – ABA helps us understand exactly why these do happen, and understand that there is a reason, and they are not “without warning”.

So, what is behaviour? -  This is everything a person does .

What is “the environment?” - The physical and social events surrounding a person that might alter the way they behave.

Does that answer the question? Not really?

A slightly longer answer then. ABA is based on the science of learning and behaviour. It has general “rules” about how behaviour works, and how and when learning takes place. ABA applies these “rules” to increase desired behaviours (like communication) and reduce occurrences of undesired behaviours (like tantrums). ABA uses these “rules” to reduce behaviours that interfere with learning, or behaviours that may be harmful.

ABA can be used to increase communication skills, social skills, academics. It can be used to increase the variety of someone’s diet. To toilet train a child, teach them to accept going to the dentist or the hairdressers. It can be used to decrease problem behaviours which may limit where you go, what you can do and how you do things.

ABA is evidence based

This means there is loads of evidence to show that it is effective and useful when it comes to teaching behaviours.

Have you heard of antecedents and consequences?

ABA looks at what happens directly before a behaviour – the antecedent, and the consequence – what happens after the behaviour.

The antecedent helps us to understand the function of the behaviour – did the behaviour occur to gain access to something? To avoid something? Because something fun stopped?

As for consequences, have you heard of positive reinforcement? It’s a reward. If a behaviour is followed by a reward, the behaviour is more likely to be repeated. These rewards are an essential part of ABA – they bring about the meaningful behaviour changes we need.

Will ABA benefit my child?

Is your child having difficulty learning? Having difficulty communicating? Tantruming? Displaying aggression?

Then yes, ABA is likely to be useful. Obviously I can’t say how long it will take and exactly what will happen as everyone is different, but it’s highly likely to be effective.

What do I do if I’m not sure if it’s right for my child?

Ring us, email is, pop in to talk to us. If you decide it’s not for you, we can help you find something that you think may be more to your liking. But I don’t think you’ll need to. Because ABA is evidence based, unlike to many other therapies. Did I say I’ve studied ABA for years? I like it. It works.

Parent training is the key to success….

Welcome to our first blog, bear with as we learn how this works! We look forward to posting information on the latest research, autism support services, things we have been up to at the centre and lots of interesting links and articles.

We are excited that our first post is about an area we have great success in and we want to expand - parent training! We are really passionate about ABA not being a secret that is kept behind the doors of a centre. We want to empower you as the parent to implement strategies at home – that way, your child will experience a consistent approach so they will learn skills quicker and it will give you the understanding of how to respond to those daily challenges.  We also want ABA to be as accessible as possible and we understand that sadly the cost of therapy is a huge consideration. By training parents we can give you the day to day tools you need in order to teach, support and understand your child.

This all sounds great, but how do we do this?

Well, just as we teach flexibility to our children we are flexible too. We run parent training in a way that suits you and your family. We run ‘hands on’ parent training during therapy sessions. This means you join us for sessions so we can demonstrate techniques and support you in doing the same. This method has been of particular success when learning how to reduce and manage problem behaviours. It gives us plenty of time to explain strategies, support you during the difficulties moments and share the success of strategies working.

What if I can’t bring my child for regular sessions?

No problem – we are excited to launch two types of intensive parent training clinics. All training takes place at our centre in Haywards Heath – here we train up to three family members so you don’t have to go home and spend time explaining what to do to everyone else. A dedicated behaviour analyst will complete a comprehensive evaluation of your child’s skills and needs covering areas such as:

  • Teaching communication
  • Expanding your child’s diet
  • Increasing your child’s social skills
  • Reducing levels of problem behaviour
  • Increasing your child’s independence with daily living skills
  • Other areas of need, such as toilet training, following instructions from family members

Over the course of the 5-day clinic we demonstrate skills, explain the theory behind the strategies and support you to apply the skills yourself. Targets are clearly detailed and any resources you need to start programmes are made up ready for you to take away. You will leave the course with new ideas and the confidence that you can manage and help your child to develop and grow.

What happens after the clinic has finished?

We provide 2 follow up meetings where we can check in with your child’s progress, move targets on, discuss and solve any problems that may have arisen and you can ask any questions you have. 

I have heard that other therapists can help too?

We are very lucky to have a highly experienced (and ABA trained!) OT as well as fantastic Speech and Language Therapist who has plenty of experience with providing therapy to children on ABA programmes. Both therapists are available to provide an assessment during the clinic if you would like.

5 days seems to long…

Don’t worry. We also have the option of a shorter clinic, which focuses on just one area at a time, for example, communication.

Sounds interesting but I would like more information

Please give us a call or email us, and we can answer any questions you may have. We’re here to help.