Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the science in which tactics derived from the principles of behavior
are applied systematically to improve socially significant behavior. Experimentation is used to identify the variables
responsible for behavior change. ABA utilizes a natural science approach to discover the environmental variables that
influence socially significant behavior and develops a technology for manipulating and using those variables to
promote change/improvement in that behavior.
- Baer, Wolf, and Risley (1968,1987)
There are seven defining characteristics of Applied Behavior Analysis that all behavior change programs
need to meet in order to be considered true ABA:
Applied: ABA investigates socially significant behaviors
with immediate importance to the subject.
Behavioral: The behavior in need of improvement
is precisely measured and documents that it was the subject's behavior that actually changed.
ABA demonstrates that there is experimental control over the occurrence and nonoccurrence of the behavior (a functional relation).
This means that the program is able to control whether or not the behavior occurs.
details and procedures of the program and written in detail such that anyone should be able to replicate and implement the
Conceptually systematic: Behavior change interventions are derived from basic principles of behavior.
Effective: Improves behavior sufficiently to produce practical results for the individual.
ABA produces behavior changes that last over time, appear in other environments, or spread to other behaviors.
- Cooper, Heron, and Heward, Applied Behavior Analysis
Verbal Behavior involves the subject matter that we think of as "language," which includes topics
such as thinking, grammar, language understanding, etc. Verbal behavior includes both vocal (speech) and nonvocal
(sign language, PECS, communication devices, gestures) communication. Verbal behavior utilizes the principles and techniques
of Applied Behavior Analysis to assist children and adults with improving their communication abilities, social skills, and
ability to appropriately learn new skills.