What is the ABA Intervention model? Where does it come from? How does it work?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a branch of psychology that has provided a greater number of quality scientific studies -published in journals with methodological review criteria- demonstrating the effectiveness of various behavioral procedures and techniques in the reduction of challenging behaviors, as well as an increase in the repertoire of socially significant behaviors and new skills, specifically in children with autism.

The basic principles of the ABA intervention model are:

Analysis – Progress is evaluated based on the interventions recorded and measured in their progress to identify if behaviors are increasing or decreasing.Behavior – refers to observable actions and abilities needed to communicate and engage with othersApplied – applying interventions to teach socially significant skills used in daily living

This intervention model comes specifically from the research carried out by Dr. Lovaas, in the Department of Psychology of the University of Los Angeles-California, in 1987. Dr. Ivar Lovaas demonstrated that behaviors in children with autism could be modified through the ABA method. In his study, he showed that the majority of children receiving ABA treatment could benefit significantly, even losing the diagnosis after years of therapy.

The development of ABA treatment requires the following to occur prior to the start of this intervention:

Evaluation of the child prior to the start of treatment.A subsequent individualized design of the intervention.Establishment of the ratio of treatment hours. They oscillate between 20 and 40 hours.Specific training of the therapists who develop the intervention, as well as their close environment (parents).

Once the steps prior to the start of the intervention have been established, it is essential to mark the basic structures of the ABA methodology, such as:

Identifying reinforcers and completing preference assessments to increase motivation during sessions.

Identifying pivotal skills and generalizing the skill sets across settings and people.

Using varied ABA techniques such as discrete trial training, pivotal response training, naturalistic environmental training to teach functional skills for independent access to the individual’s natural environment.

Providing caregiver training and fading out generalization of ABA principles to promote long term retention of socially significant interactions.