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The ABCs of ABA

Chalkboard with the text: The ABCs of ABA

Learn the basic building blocks of ABA therapy for children with autism.


If you have a child with autism, chances are you have either heard of, use, or integrate aspects of Applied Behavior Analysis into your life. Let’s get down to the basics -. What is ABA and why does it work? Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is an evidence-based science dedicated to making socially significant change. ABA has a proven history to be the ONLY scientifically validated treatment for autism and related disabilities.

Let’s learn the ABC’s of ABA together

  1. Antecedents
    • When identifying Antecedents, be sure to ask the “Wh” questions:
      • Where?
      • With whom?
      • When?
      • What activity?
      • What are other people doing?
    • While also considering possible environmental contributing factors:
      • Staff
      • Proximity of others
      • Noise level
      • Group size
    • Or more distant setting events:
      • Medication changes
      • Changes or distress in home life
      • Health status of child
  2. Behavior
    • This is the response. Details are important here. You want to showcase what is happening so instead of just “behaved aggressively.” you want to keep track of more specific behaviors like “kicked peer,” “pinched brother,” and “slammed fist into shelf” as examples.
  3. Consequences
    • When identifying consequences, things may not be as clear as one event following a behavior. Instead, multiple events may follow the behavior of concern (for example- adult provided attention and then removed or modified a task). This is one reason that recording multiple occurrences of ABC data is required, so that the patterns can be evaluated for its influence on behavior while strengthening the confidence in the hypothesis.
    • These three things are the building blocks of ABA therapy and really set up how behaviors are tracked and therefore modified by changing things like environment, etc.