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What is ABA?

When your kiddos are first starting ABA therapy you may feel like you have a lot of questions, and that is totally okay and understandable! In order to help you better understand what ABA is I am going to provide you a brief backstory of what ABA is and what we hope to accomplish with this kind of therapy!

ABA therapy stands for Applied Behavior Analysis. ABA therapy focuses on learning and behavior. In this type of therapy you will learn about why your child’s behaviors are occurring and what steps need to be taken in order to learn appropriate behaviors (if necessary).

To better understand ABA it is important to understand why behaviors are occurring in the first place. There are four functions of behavior (causes)- sensory, escape, attention, and access to tangible items (Four Functions of Behavior, 2017). With the help of a BCBA you can learn which one of these reasons might be causing a child’s problem behavior, and what you can do in order to teach more appropriate behavior. Through ABA therapy your child’s therapist can help them learn appropriate ways to ask for help, communicate when they need a break from something, or even requesting extra break time. In order to increase these types of appropriate behavior the therapist will use positive reinforcement to encourage the child to continue to use these types of behavior. Positive reinforcement might include a high-five, verbal praise (great job, you are awesome, you did it!), or even access to a fun item (books, videogames, etc.).

Some of the main goals of ABA include increasing social and play skills, communication, independent self-care, and learning skills (What is Applied Behavior Analysis). This list is not limited either, as each child has their own set of goals that will be worked on to better help them and their individual needs.

Now that you have a general idea of what ABA is it might be useful to understand the people that will be working with your child. Your child will have a BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) who will create a plan for you child and work with you to focus on goals. The BCBA does not typically provide direct services to the child but usually supervises the RBT (Registered Behavior Technician). The RBT will typically be the person that you see every session as they will work directly with the child to meet their goals. The role of your child’s BCBA is to make sure that goals are being met, supervising the RBT, and helping you with any concerns that you may have. You can typically expect to see your child’s BCBA one to four times per month.

I hope that this information has helped you understand what ABA is and helped you feel more comfortable getting started! If you still have more questions about what ABA is feel free to reach out to your Clinical Director, BCBA, or RBT. Additionally, some great resources will be listed below!


Four Functions of Behavior. (2017). Retrieved from:

What is Applied Behavior Analysis. Retrieved from:

Additional Resources:

Autism Speaks-provide general information about what ABA is as well as a multitude of other great resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-provide helpful information about autism data, types of therapy, and what is supported by science.

Autism Society-similar information that Autism Speaks provides (general information, resources, referrals)

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