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What is ABA Therapy? 

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a therapy based on the science of learning behavior. ABA therapy applies how our understanding of behavior is applied to real life situations. Behavior analysis helps us understand:


  • How behavior works

  • How behavior is affected by the environment

  • How learning takes place

The methods of ABA have been used and studied for decades. ABA therapy works by:


  •  Adapting the needs to each individual.

  •  Teaches skills that are useful in everyday life.

  •  Can involve one on one or in a group setting


ABA has become widely accepted among healthcare professionals and used in many schools and treatment clinics. ABA encourages positive behaviors and discourages negative behaviors to improve a variety of skills. The child’s progress is tracked and measured.

The following information is available from the CDC website.

There are different types of ABA. Here are some examples:

Discrete Trial Training (DTT)
DTT is a style of teaching that uses a series of trials to teach each step of a desired behavior or response. Lessons are broken down into their simplest parts, and positive reinforcement is used to reward correct answers and behaviors. Incorrect answers are ignored.

Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI)
This is a type of ABA for very young children with ASD, usually younger than 5 and often younger than 3. EIBI uses a highly structured teaching approach to build positive behaviors (such as social communication) and reduce unwanted behaviors (such as tantrums, aggression, and self-injury). EIBI takes place in a one-on-one adult-to-child environment under the supervision of a trained professional.

Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)
This is a type of ABA for children with ASD between the ages of 12-48 months. Through ESDM, parents and therapists use play and joint activities to help children advance their social, language, and cognitive skills.

Pivotal Response Training (PRT)
PRT aims to increase a child’s motivation to learn, monitor their own behavior, and initiate communication with others. Positive changes in these behaviors are believed to have widespread effects on other behaviors.

Verbal Behavior Intervention (VBI)
VBI is a type of ABA that focuses on teaching verbal skills.

There are other therapies that can be part of a complete treatment program for a child with ASD:

Assistive Technology
Assistive technology, including devices such as communication boards and electronic tablets, can help people with ASD communicate and interact with others. For example, the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) uses picture symbols to teach communication skills. The person is taught to use picture symbols to ask and answer questions and have a conversation. Other individuals may use a tablet as a speech-generating or communication device.

Social Skills Training 

Social skills training teaches children the skills they need to interact with others, including conversation and problem-solving skills.



CDC Center for Disease Control

Behavior Analyst Certification Board

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