Frequently Asked Questions

What is ABA and how does it work?

Applied behavior analysis is the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree, and to demonstrate that the interventions employed are responsible for the improvement in behavior (Baer, Wolf & Risley, 1968; Sulzer-Azaroff & Mayer, 1991). 


These improvements in behavior are accomplished by breaking behaviors down in their component parts of Discriminantive Stimulus (Sd), Response (R), and Reinforcing Stimulus (Sr) and tapping into motivation to adjust behaviors step by step so that over time desirable behaviors are increased and undesirable behaviors are decreased. Good ABA is done by reducing the prompts so that the Sd’s and Sr’s become more and more natural over time. 

What does an ABA session look like?

An ABA session is typically a high energy interaction between the client and the therapist.


ABA sessions include some discrete trial work, lots of positive reinforcement using whatever is motivating for the child: praise, recreational breaks, tokens, etc. Often there will be a mix of tasks that the therapist is practicing in order to assure that there is focus and mastery vs. rote repetition or boredom.


In order to be successful, the therapist must develop rapport with the client. A process of pairing with reinforcement will take place during a portion of the session. A portion of the session will be spent in the natural environment, away from the table, doing incidental teaching of skills. 

How does ABA help build social interaction skills?

ABA assists in developing social interaction skills when working on programs related to turn-taking, conversation and other skills that neuro-typical kids pick up naturally. By identifying those individual areas where a child on the spectrum has deficits and building the developmental skills using ABA, social skills can be remediated.

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AHSS. 2020. Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy & Autism Therapy l AHSS [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 15 July 2020]

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