What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)?
Behaviour Analysis is the scientific study of behaviour. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the process of systematically applying interventions, based on Behavior Analysis, in an effort to improve socially significant behaviors (Sulzer-Azaroff & Mayer, 1991).
Socially significant behaviors are any behaviors that improve the quality of life for the individual receiving treatment. These include, but are not limited to reading, writing, mathematics, communication, gross and fine motor skills, and daily living skills.
The basic components of ABA include:
- Skills are broken down to the simplest components and taught in a specific order
- Skills are taught to fluent mastery, which includes consistency across people, materials and environments
- Reinforcement is used to build new skills and motivate the learner
- Individualized prompting procedures are used to maximize success and are systematically faded
- Data is collected and analyzed as the primary method for evaluating and documenting success
Who is Qualified to provide ABA services?
Currently there is no agreed upon set of qualifications for individuals that provide ABA services. This is evident in the large variation of skill sets and training in the field. Obviously, when seeking out professionals to apply ABA, you want to find the most qualified, most well read, well-practiced people.
In 1998 The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) was created in an effort to help consumers differentiate between qualified and nonqualified professionals implementing ABA. It is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies in Washington, DC and is endorsed by the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts, The Association for Behavior Analysis International, Division 25 of the American Psychological Association and the European Association for Behavior Analysis. Note that there are no endorsements in Australia as there are currently no national associations for Behavior Analysis.
It is most desirable to have a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) supervise the training and implementation of ABA programs. In general, BCBAs require:
- Masters or Ph.D. that was conferred in behavior analysis or other natural science, education, human services, engineering, medicine or a field related to behavior analysis and approved by the BACB.
- 225 hours of graduate course work specific to behavior analysis
- 1500 hours of supervised experience applying ABA.
Following completion of the basic requirements, an individual must pass an exam prior to receiving certification. In addition, BCBAs must complete 36 hours of continuing education every 3 years to maintain certification.