Applied Behavior Analysis
Applied behavior analysis is a scientific approach to understanding behavior and how it is affected by environmental variables. Behavior refers to all kinds of actions and skills (not just misbehavior), and environmental variables include 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 appropriate, functional 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 significant problems, and to bring about meaningful behavior change. Individuals who practice ABA are responsible for being familiar with current research regarding effective treatment and planning. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board provides conduct guidelines for all practitioners and clearly states that Behavior Analysts should rely on scientifically and professionally derived knowledge when making scientific or professional judgements about the services they are providing. This helps to ensure that ABA based interventions are continually monitored and analyzed for treatment efficacy.