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Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)205 is a scientific approach to understanding behavior and how it is affected by the environment. “Behavior” refers to all kinds of actions and skills (not just misbehavior), and “environment” includes all sorts of physical and social events that might change or be changed by one's behavior. The science of behavior analysis focuses on principles (that is, general laws) about how behavior works, or how learning takes place. For example, one principle of behavior analysis is positive reinforcement: When a behavior is followed by something that is valued (a “reward”), that behavior is likely to be repeated. Through decades of research, the field of behavior analysis has developed many techniques for increasing useful behaviors and reducing those that may be harmful or that interfere with learning. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the use of those techniques and principles to address socially important problems, and to bring about meaningful behavior change.

ABA is sometimes referred to as the Lovaas Model, for its pioneer, Dr. Ivar Lovaas, or Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT), for its primary teaching technique. ABA targets the learning of skills and the reduction of challenging behaviors.206

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