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.