ABA Method: What it is, How it works and Examples

ABA Method: What it is, How it works and Examples

ABA Method: What it is, How it works and Examples

The ABA method, or Applied Behavior Analysis, has been and continues to be used as a powerful tool in the treatment of developmental disorders, particularly autism. Grounded in behavioral science principles, this therapeutic approach offers a structured framework for understanding and modifying human behavior. In today's post, we will explain what the ABA method is, how it works in practice and we will provide you with concrete examples of its application.

What is the ABA method?


Applied Behavior Analysis or ABA, which is short for Applied Behavior Analysis, is a scientific approach to understanding and modifying human behavior. Its history dates back to the 1960s and 1970s, when psychologists and educators began applying BF Skinner's principles of operant conditioning in clinical and educational settings. Skinner postulated that behavior is influenced by its consequences, meaning that actions that result in rewards tend to be repeated, while those that lead to negative consequences tend to decrease.

ABA is based on this premise, focusing on identifying the functional relationships between behavior and its environment. Through systematic observation and data collection, therapists can analyze how the environment affects an individual's behavior and design specific interventions to modify it.

This therapeutic approach has evolved over time, incorporating advances in psychology and neuroscience to improve its effectiveness. Today, the ABA method is widely used in the treatment of a variety of developmental disorders, with a particular focus on autism. Its application extends from childhood maturational delay to adulthood, addressing a wide range of skills and behaviors, from language development to improving social skills.

What is the ABA method for?

The ABA method is used to understand and improve socially significant behaviors. Below, we detail how it can be beneficial in the mentioned conditions:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Widely used in its treatment, ABA sometimes improves social, communication and learning skills by reinforcing positive behaviors and reducing negative ones.
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): For those with ADHD, ABA can help improve concentration and impulse control.
  • Learning Difficulties: This method has been found useful for teaching academic and study skills through a gradual approach.
  • Behavioral disorders: In this context, ABA can be effective in reducing problematic behaviors and promoting positive reinforcement behaviors.
  • Language disorders: In specific situations the ABA method has played a crucial role in improving communication and language skills.
  • Mental retardation: For those with mental retardation, it can be valuable in teaching everyday living skills and promoting independence.
  • Dementia: In the case of dementia, it helps manage problematic behaviors and encourage independence in daily activities.

How does the ABA method work?

The ABA method operates on the meticulous application of behavioral science principles to modify specific behaviors. As we have said, its foundation lies in the premise that human behavior is intrinsically linked to its environment, and that by manipulating the consequences of behavior, it is possible to generate significant changes. ABA professionals use a four-step process to implement an effective intervention:

  • Comprehensive evaluation: This begins with a detailed evaluation of the person's current behavior. This involves careful observation, the identification of the antecedents and consequences associated with the behavior, as well as the rigorous collection of data that allows us to understand its frequency and intensity.
  • Establishment of clear objectives: Once the behavior is evaluated, specific and achievable goals are established for the intervention. These goals are formulated so that they are measurable and closely align with the person's individual needs and preferences.
  • Design of the personalized intervention: Next, an intervention is designed adapted to the unique characteristics of the person and based on the principles of ABA. This intervention focuses on modifying the consequences of the target behavior in a systematic and effective manner.
  • Implementation and monitoring: The intervention is carefully and systematically put into practice, while its progress and effectiveness are closely monitored. Data is collected on a regular basis to assess the person's progress and make adjustments to the intervention as necessary, ensuring a dynamic and adaptable treatment process.

How is ABA therapy applied? Examples


The application of ABA therapy is incredibly extensive. This is because it adapts to the individual needs of each patient. This characteristic flexibility means that it can take many forms and, therefore, many examples. Next, so that you understand it better, we leave you some very simple ones:

Language development

In the case of a child diagnosed with autism, ABA therapy becomes an essential tool to enhance their language skills. During therapy sessions, the therapist uses techniques such as modeling and positive reinforcement to teach the child to communicate verbally. This involves everything from learning simple words to expressing needs and desires through gestures, colorful objects such as  kiddus time teacher  from the  Kiddus brand or identifying images.

Development of social skills

An adolescent with severe relationship problems benefits greatly from structured group activities designed as part of ABA therapy. During these interactions, the therapist focuses on teaching you key social skills, such as taking turns, sharing, and making eye contact. Such lessons are reinforced through strategies such as modeling desired behavior, positive reinforcement, and constructive feedback.

Reduction of challenging behaviors

For an adult with intellectual disabilities who exhibits challenging behaviors such as aggression or self-mutilation, ABA therapy offers an effective approach to addressing these challenges. The therapist works to identify the underlying causes of these behaviors through functional behavioral analysis. It then develops personalized intervention strategies that focus on modifying environmental contingencies and promoting alternative, more adaptive behaviors.

Improved emotional self-control

A person who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) could participate in ABA therapy sessions to work on controlling their emotions. During such sessions, the therapist uses techniques such as behavioral modeling in challenging emotional  intelligence in children situations. Additionally, I would use positive reinforcement to recognize and reward moments when the patient manages to regulate their emotions effectively. These strategies help develop skills to identify, understand and manage emotions.

Who can apply ABA?

The application of applied behavioral analysis requires professionals with specific training and experience in this field. Although there are different levels of training, the most qualified are those who have the following credentials:

Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)

They hold the highest credential awarded, have a strong academic background, and have passed a rigorous exam. They are trained to design, implement and supervise complex ABA intervention programs.

Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA)

They have an intermediate credential, but they also have specific academic training and have passed a rigorous exam. They may work under the supervision of a BCBBA to implement ABA intervention programs.

Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)

They hold the entry-level credential, also with specific education and training, but can only work under the supervision of a BCBBA or BCaBA to implement ABA intervention programs.

Benefits of ABA therapy in children


ABA therapy offers a wide range of benefits, both for children, adolescents and adults, among which we can find:

Advances in communication and language

Helps children use words to express themselves instead of relying on gestures or tantrums in children. Improves the ability to understand both spoken and written language stimulation in children, following instructions and answering questions. It also encourages the use of language in different contexts, such as at school, at home and in the community.

Improved social skills

Teaches how to interact appropriately with others, taking turns, sharing and making friends. Develops the ability to understand and follow social norms in different environments. Finally, it is useful to reduce behaviors such as aggression, self-harm or tantrums.

Academic advancement

Helps learn reading, writing, mathematics and other school subjects. Promotes the ability to stay focused on tasks and activities for longer periods. This, therefore, results in better performance in school evaluations and tests.

Reduction of problem behaviors

Teaches children specific techniques to calm themselves and control their emotions when they feel frustration in children or overwhelmed. Works to identify triggers and develop strategies to avoid or manage these behaviors, resulting in a reduction in disruptive or challenging behaviors in different environments.

Promotion of independence

Children learn to perform basic tasks such as dressing, eating, and going to the bathroom on their own. It also promotes the ability to make decisions and carry out activities independently. That is, it promotes greater independence and participation in daily activities.


In short, this method is not just a therapeutic approach, it is a commitment to deeply understanding and improving human behavior. Through its rigorous and personalized application, it has proven to be highly effective in teaching new skills, reducing problematic behaviors, and promoting independence and inclusion. As we continue to advance our understanding of developmental disorders and the search for effective interventions, we will surely improve current therapeutic methods and create new ones, so that we can all have a good quality of life.

Author: Kiddus Team

At Kiddus we take pride in creating high-quality accessories for kids that are both functional and fashionable. Our team is composed of professionals in the children's industry, including designers, engineers, and child development experts. We work together to create innovative and safe products that meet the needs of both children and parents. With years of experience and a passion for quality, we strive to exceed expectations and bring joy to families around the world.

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