What Does an Applied Behavior Analyst Do?

A behavior analyst will help you to clearly define the strengths and learning needs of your child. Your behavior analyst will address those needs using research-based methodologies.

  • Your behavior analyst will observe your child’s behavior in a variety of environments, to develop an accurate picture of his current learning strengths and needs.
  • Your behavior analyst will select procedures to address your child’s various learning goals, and then design experiments to determine the effects of these procedures on your child’s behaviors.
  • Your behavior analyst will train family members, so that your child will use his or her new skills across the many people and places in his life.

What is an Applied Behavior Analysis Program?

BCBAs (Board Certified Behavior Analysts) will develop programs specifically targeted to the needs of your child. This is not a size fits all approach. In each program there are three components that all have to work together: people, programming, and practice.

The people include: a behavior analyst, tutors, you and other significant family members, and usually your school staff. The behavior analyst will also periodically evaluate results and adjust the program as your child learns.

Applied Behavior Analysis practice applies equally well to the school environment. This is where a trained aide, who is part of the home program, is an essential part of the program. This is also the part that often confuses parents and distresses schools – unfortunate; because if done right, the benefits to all are tremendous (a good aide makes the teacher’s job much easier).

One of the most common mistakes parents and schools make is to place a child in school without coordinated support from an Applied Behavior Analysis trained aide, on the theory that “he needs to be around kids to learn social skills.” Again, if your child could learn like that, he wouldn’t have Autism.

What Kind of Progress Can Be Expected with ABA?

Progress will vary for each person; a competently delivered ABA intervention can help learners with autism make meaningful changes in many areas. Most learners require intensive and ongoing instruction that builds on their step-by-step progress.

How much a child can learn is something no one can really predict. Recent experience suggests that the child’s progress in the first few months – a measure of his ability to learn – is related to long-term success. Progress also depends on how many hours the program is being done.