How Does Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Work?

Behavioral Analysis is exactly what it sounds like: the study of someone’s behavior. It might sound scary or invasive, but when it comes to child development, it’s important to take note of how they react to their surroundings.

The goal is to solve the problematic conduct (or reaction) by examining what is behind it. This kind of therapy targets children’s disruptive behavior disorders. What do we mean by behavioral disorders? Some warning signs include severe mood changes, isolation, poor impulse control, dishonesty, stealing, self-harm (head-banging, repeated biting, etc.), persistent disobedience, struggle sleeping, repetitive behaviors, and aggression.

One question a Behavioral Analytical Assessment aims to answer is “Why does your child react to specific environmental stimuli the way they do?” Children’s behavioral disorders can impact how they build relationships and how they interact with others.

Applied Behavioral Analysis promotes improvements in a child’s communication, reading, and social skills through the use of therapeutic techniques. It also targets adaptive learning skills, such as hygiene, punctuality, job competence, and motor skill. When a child is experiencing abnormal behavior it’s important to look and apply the therapy to all settings he may encounter throughout the day. 

Applied Behavior Analysis is applied in various settings in your child’s life; home, school, work, and medical office. This helps target specific behavior in all environments. In other words, we want to help your child learn how to process the troubling environmental stimuli in all settings so that he/she can learn how to contain the abnormal reaction and process the stimuli. 

As mentioned above, Behavior Analysis provides families with techniques to improve a child’s (or individuals) reaction to environmental settings that may be making them uncomfortable. By providing children with techniques to cope with things that may make them uncomfortable in their surroundings we are improving their way of life. 

Who is the Behavioral Analyst?

Throughout the process, the Board-Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA)—with the Behavioral Technician—maintains constant contact with the family. Part of the treatment includes educating you about your child’s behavior, but that’s not where it ends. Your behavioral team expects you to educate them on how you have been responding to the behavior. It allows them to have a better understanding of what has been helping your child surpass their behavior. 

Essentially, the applied behavior analysts oversee the designing and implementation of the program created specifically for your child.

  1. Assessment: An analyst will conduct an assessment that will help your team of therapists better understand where specific behaviors are coming from. This lets the team see why your child is behaving a certain way and what is blocking him/her from moving forward.
  2. Measurement: Once the team determines the target behavior, the analyst will select a system to track progress. Data collection must be done correctly. It helps your team of therapists better understand where the behavior is coming from and what can be done or changed to help your child succeed.
  3. Intervention: This part of the process includes observing and analyzing which treatment will be most effective based on response. At this stage, the therapists have identified the target behavior and are working towards a solution.
  4. Implementation:  This occurs once they have analyzed the behavior and found a solution that helps the patient overcome the obstacle that hinders their progress. Here they implement, put to action, all the data we have disclosed.
  5. Management and supervision: After establishing a behavior program, the BCBA will supervise and manage the RBT.

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Who is the Behavioral Technician?

The Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) is the individual that will implement the measures, assessments, procedures, and interventions set out by the analyst. They will be in constant contact with the family and will take note of all progress in behavior. 

The RBT is who you will see the most. Most children need to establish a connection or a relationship with someone before they will be themselves and show this person where the problem lies. That is why the RBT will remain with your family for the duration of treatment. Having that familiar/constant face for the duration of treatment is important to helping a child grow. 

An RBT is responsible for:

  • Treatment: This treatment makes sure to follow a path that will help your children build social and life skills. Once the analyst has come up with a plan, the RBT makes sure that it is followed. 
  • Observation: Observing your child’s behavior in all settings. The RBT will implement a one-on-one therapy service in a child’s home, school, or other natural environments. The goal is to minimize disruptive or challenging behavior. 
  • Family Support/Training: He/she will provide support to all the people in the child’s life. It’s crucial that the BCBA and RBT make sure efforts to improve the target behavior are implemented across all of the child’s environments.
  • Incentivized success: The registered behavior technician finds ways to motivate your child if he/she is showing progress. This method is referred to as positive reinforcement. The goal is significant growth in their lives.


A BCBA is responsible for designing and implementing the services that RBTs frequently carried out.

Who is ABA for?

ABA is mainly used as a form of therapeutic intervention for individuals with autism or some type of conduct disorder. It helps individuals with autism improve how they interact with others, learn new life skills, and establish positive behaviors. For the best results, it is recommended that children be treated before the age of 4. This provides autistic children with a better chance of leading an independent life.

ABA can be  applied to other individuals as well. It helps adults cope with life’s situations, such as memory, strength, and relationship loss. It’s also shown to help people in general cope with lifestyle barriers that come with having a mental health or physical condition.


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