Behavior management is a key area of focus in ABA therapy. ABA therapy reduces challenging behavior in a manner that is safe and the least restrictive. In behavior management therapy, ABA therapists use reinforcement-based techniques (rather than punishment-based) to reduce unwanted behaviors that might be affecting the child’s ability to learn or engage in meaningful relationships.
What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy?
Applied Behavior Analysis, commonly referred to as ABA therapy, is a system of techniques and treatments based on the science of human behavior. ABA therapy is a clear and systematic way to describe, observe, and measure behavior. It is research-based, data-driven, and a proven, effective therapy option for increasing desired behaviors and achieving positive outcomes. Put simply, ABA therapy for autism can teach positive changes in a person’s behavior by modifying their environment. ABA therapy uses scientifically tested techniques to improve communication, social skills, independent living skills and reduce challenging behaviors.
How Does ABA Therapy Improve Behavior?
ABA therapy improves behavior by first identifying why challenging behaviors are occurring and then teaching the child other ways to communicate or accomplish what they want.
Prior to creating a customized treatment plan based on behavioral principles, a trained clinician will conduct a functional behavior assessment (FBA). This allows the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) to understanding why a certain behavior is occurring. For example, does a tantrum occur because a preferred item was taken away? Does a tantrum occur because the child did not want to complete a task they were given? Understanding the source and function of the challenging behavior helps create meaningful behavior reduction plans that are based off data and reason rather than guesswork.
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Once the reason for the challenging behavior is identified, several techniques can be implemented to help the child better communicate their needs and engage in more appropriate behavior. For example, when asked to complete a chore, a child may cry. The goal of ABA is to teach “replacement behaviors” like asking for help. Behavior analysis uses motivational theories to establish a set of rewards for engaging in appropriate behaviors instead of challenging behaviors.
Many different challenging behaviors may present themselves, and there are a variety of ways to improve challenging behavior, but one common thread is that reinforcement is the pillar of ABA therapy for behavior management. BCBAs have ethical obligations to protect the dignity of their clients and are well trained to assess and treat a variety of challenging behaviors in safe and non-restrictive ways.
- ABA Therapy for Children with Autism
- Common ABA Treatment Outcomes
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