Applied Behavior Analysis Explained

ABA is a form of behavior analysis based on the findings of B.F. Skinner in the 1930s, including his book Verbal Behavior, published in 1957. In 1968, D.M. Baer, M.M. Wolf, and T.R. Risley defined ABA as the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree, and to demonstrate that the interventions employed are responsible for the improvement of behavior. They described ABA as having seven dimensions:

  • application (social significance)
  • behavioral (changes in behavior that are measurable)
  • analytical (controllable)
  • technological (replicable)
  • conceptually-systematic,
  • effective, and
  • general (persists over time, various environments, and spreads to other behaviors).

In 1987, Dr. Ivar Lovaas published a study showing the efficacy of ABA in treating children with autism, a finding that has been confirmed in hundreds of published studies and endorsed by many, including the US Surgeon General.