Applied Behavior Analysis

Applied Behavior Analysis May Very Well Be Covered By Your Insurance

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the “intervention of choice” when teaching children with autism (Gina Green, 1996). Research studies have proven that ABA is not only effective for young children with autism but also with adults who have autism and related disorders. ABA is not exclusively used in the field of autism. Research has validated it as a tool used in numerous other domains of all people with a disability, and anyone who needs to have social significant behavior change.  The science of ABA is practiced in a disciplined and methodical manner. ABA is the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree (Baer, Wolf & Risley, 1968). ABA has made it possible for individuals with disabilities not only to acquire new skills but also to increase the quality of their social behaviors. There are many dimensions within the technology used in ABA programs. Below is a list that is intended to serve as a basic introduction to ABA programs.

While quality ABA programs are highly individualized, each uses the following basic tools:

Initial Assessment: In order to assess progress one must establish a baseline. The initial assessment will identify what skills the learner has in their repertoire and which ones he/she does not have. The learner’s program is designed directly from this assessment.

Developmental Domains: Quality programs include a curriculum that addresses all relevant domains: communication, visual performance, social skills, academic skills, self-care, leisure skills, gross motor, fine motor, etc.

Operational Definitions: All skills and behaviors in the program are clearly defined in measurable terms. It is essential that everyone is working with the same information when reinforcing behaviors and collecting data.

Student to Teacher Ratio: Traditionally all ABA programs are conducted with one teacher to each child. Some learners will be able to progress to a less intensive teaching environment and the teacher to child ratio can be increased.

Behavior Analyst: Ideally it is best when programs are led by a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA). Currently, in Indiana, there are not enough BCBA’s to provide this needed service to all those who would benefit from it. This is one of many reasons that we are so proud of our program. The role of the analyst is to design, monitor, and train the team to implement the program. The team includes first and foremost the parents, the teachers/behavior interventionists, and often the school staff.

Data Collection: Direct observation is used to collect data. Some programs use trial by trial data (every time the skill is taught, the response is recorded). Other programs do cold probes (only the first response of the day is recorded). There are benefits to both methods.

Incidental Teaching: Quality programs will have structured procedures in place to plan and implement Incidental Teaching. Incidental Teaching procedures motivate the learner to interact with the environment because they are interested. Teachers structure the environment and the lesson so that learners will have the opportunity to learn within ongoing typical activities. It is essential to teach parents to integrate this into the daily routine such as dinner and bath time. Incidental teaching is known for it’s effectiveness in generalizing skills across multiple people, places and environments.

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References: Baer, D. Wolf, M., & Risley, R. (1968). Some current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1, 91-97 Cooper, J.O. Heron, T., & Heward, W. (1989) Applied Behavior Analysis. Columbus, OH: Merrill Maurice, C. Green, G.,Luce, S. (Eds) (1996). Behavioral intervention for young children with autism: A manual for parents and professional. Texas: Pro-Ed, 29 .