Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is an applied science. It is widely known as best practice in the treatment and education of individuals diagnosed with autism / autism spectrum disorders. But the scope of Applied Behavior Analysis is incredibly wider than that, as can be seen by a quick browse of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. This website is mainly devoted to the application of Behavior Analysis in the field of autism, but the value of Behavior Analysis as a science of behavior, and of Applied Behavior Analysis as a science committed to, with strict reliability, improve important human problems, cannot be overstated.
The model of intervention called intensive behavioral intervention, or early intensive behavioral intervention when started at approximately 2-4 years of age, was first attempted by late Dr. Ivar Lovaas and has since evolved and improved, accompanying significant developments in the technology of behavior we call ABA. Decades of research have elaborated on individual strategies as well as on the combination of strategies, and on the ideal components of a comprehensive treatment program where applicable. To name a few of the strategies which benefited from continuous research, discrete-trials teaching packages, such as the one in the DTT Manual, has been and continues to be studied regarding variations in prompting and prompt fading procedures, schedules of reinforcement, inter-trial intervals, pace, data collection. Functional Communication Training (FCT) has become the standard strategy to eliminate severe problem behaviors by replacing them with appropriate behaviors that produce the same consequences as the problem behaviors, as it also continues to be investigated for variables that can affect its immediate success and maintenance over time. Functional Analysis has become the gold-standard for identification of causes of problem behavior and significant contribution continues to appear in the literature, solving any new obstacle identified as it is implemented across more and more populations and more and more types and severity of behaviors. Incidental Teaching, a naturalistic strategy, from the infamous 1975 article, has become a necessary component of a well rounded behavioral program, to contribute to new and generalized language.
Behavioral intervention in autism is an extraordinary field. It has been demonstrated the gold standard beyond any doubt and validated by numerous expert individuals and organizations (e.g., General Surgeon of the United States, NY State Department of Health, and several task forces). The field is challenged by the rapid growth of its popularity and public funding, which demonstrate its value and states to its scientific foundation, mainly in regards to the education and training of proficient behavior analysts and paraprofessionals. In addition to credentialing of university programs that train Master and Doctoral level behavior analysts, the Behavior Analyst Certification Board has made the major contribution toward designing sets of competencies to guide the training and to test the minimum knowledge standard for a behavior analyst (BCBA) and assistant behavior analysts (BCaBA).
- From the AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS, or entire article
- What is Behavior Analysis?
- Dick Malott’s: A Brief History of Behavior Analysis and Autism