Behaviour analysis is the scientific study of learning and behaviour. There are two main branches of behaviour analysis: Experimental Analysis of Behaviour (EAB) and Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA).
EAB, developed by B.F. Skinner in the 1930’s, is the scientific study of the principles and rules of behaviour, including how organisms learn new behaviours and why some behaviours are maintained and others are not (e.g., principle of reinforcement).
ABA is the application of these rules to teach socially significant behaviours to people with an aim to increase the quality of life for individuals and their families.
Applied Behaviour Analysis
Applied behaviour analysis gained popularity in the late 1960’s with its first published peer-reviewed article and now has over 50 years of scientific research applying behaviour analytic principles to teach and maintain new behaviours.
ABA is used to change and modify existing behaviours in conjunction with teaching new socially significant behaviours. It focuses on motivation, antecedents (the behavioural predictors/triggers) and the consequences (the element that reinforces or extinguishes the behaviour) that follow the behaviour.
ABA is the most scientifically validated form of intervention for children on the autism spectrum. Its effective use of antecedent and consequence strategies create optimal learning outcomes. It is used to teach functional communication, social skills, play skills, group instruction in school settings, and independent life skills (e.g. toileting, taking public transport, and preparing a meal). Note that this is a very brief list of some possible learning outcomes that can be taught using ABA.
ABA programs are tailored to meet the learner’s individual needs whilst incorporating the family’s goals. It uses objective data which is graphed to monitor behaviour change and learner progress ensuring the program continuously evolves.