Applied Behavior Analysis

Applied Behavior Analysis

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the science of human behavior that began with the work of B.F. Skinner over 70 years ago. Skinner identified causes of behavior to be related more to the environment, instead of always within us. He found that the social and physical environment changes our behavior.

When applying this thinking to teaching children (adolescents and adults), the behavior analyst is guided by principles that explain behavior as an effect of the environment. Behavior analysis does not limit the learning process solely to the individual’s capabilities, but instead on learning new skills as a product of the therapist’s capabilities of modifying the environment.

As the science of Applied Behavior Analysis evolves, improvements to the application of its principles are carefully researched and published in peer reviewed journals. In the past, most ABA programs implemented for children with autism were based on the work published by O. Ivar Lovaas in the 1980’s.
However, during those years Jack Michael, PhD., Mark Sundberg, PhD., and James Partington, PhD., among others in the field, focused on researching Skinner’s Analysis of Verbal Behavior and its effectiveness of teaching language skills to person’s with developmental delays, among other disabilities. Their research has enhanced ABA programs by emphasizing the critical elements in language acquisition.

With the increased interest in Verbal Behavior as a component in ABA programs, it is necessary to explain how ABA, Discrete Trial Training, Lovaas programming, and Verbal Behavior differ and relate. As the science of Applied Behavior Analysis evolves, improvements to the application of its principles are carefully researched and published in peer reviewed journals. In the past, most ABA programs implemented for children with autism were based on the work published by O. Ivar Lovaas in the 1980’s.
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