“Applied behavior analysis is the science in which tactic derived from the principles of behavior are applied systematically to improve socially significant behavior and experimentation is used to identify the variables that are responsible for behavior change.” (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, p. 20)
The ultimate goal of applied behavior analysis (ABA) is to establish and enhance socially important behaviours.
The range of behaviours addressed by ABA is broad and deep, and looks at all parts of life. For example:
- Having a conversation with a friend
- Learning to cross a street safely
- Interviewing for a job
- Making a lunch
Interventions based on ABA address behaviours that are important to the person. ABA focusses on changing behaviours that are socially significant.
The word ‘behaviour’ is used in many different ways. Within ABA, behaviour is anything a person says, does, thinks or feels. The focus is on behaviour is measurable and observable.
A well designed plan that has specific goals and objectives, strategies to meet the goals and objectives, and ongoing data collection to show the intervention was actually responsible for the behaviour change. Plans must include generalisation and maintenance of treatment gains.