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Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA)


Over the past 40 years an extensive body of literature has documented the successful use of ABA-based procedures to reduce problem behaviour and increase appropriate skills for individuals with intellectual

disabilities (ID), autism, and related disorders.

ABA interventions are aimed at producing changes in specific skills that impact global

measures of functioning including IQ, adaptive skills, and social functioning in children with autism, for example.

Skills frequently targeted include attention, discrimination, language/communication, socialization, self-help, as well as more advanced educational skills (e.g., reading, math). These programs rely on the use of clear instructions, reinforcement, teaching small units of behaviour, and repeated trials to maximize learning opportunities. These skills are then gradually generalized to natural settings, or even taught directly in the natural environment.


ABA interventions may also focus on behaviour deceleration concerns including aggression, self-injury, disruptive behaviour, pica, and other challenging behaviours.

ABA-based treatment of these problems involves first conducting a functional behavioural assessment to identify the variables controlling problem behaviour (i.e., the cause of the behaviour). Then, this assessment information is used to guide the development of an individualized treatment(s).

Practitioners who specialize in this field are called Board Certified Behaviour Analysts (BCBA). Support personnel trained in applied behaviour analysis are Board Certified Assistant Behaviour Analysts (BCaBA) and Registered Behaviour Technicians (RBT) are trained to directly implement programming.

For more information on training and certification, please see

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