What is Applied Behavior Analysis?

ABA works under the assumption that people engage in behavior due to the consequence of that behavior. Typically, behaviors occur because, in the past, they have been reinforced by escape, attention, access to an object, or a self-stimulatory effect.

Our Core Beliefs

We presume competence
Self advocacy skills are imperative for successful adults
Students should be allowed to say no, ask for breaks, and decline touch
Parents and other therapists are our partners
Data is very important. It is graphed daily and parents have access
Natural Environment Teaching is usually the best way to learn
It is important to listen to Autistic voices
We align our programming as much as possible with best practices in the field

Reducing Behaviors

We assume that any behavior is getting a need met. If the behavior is ineffective/inappropriate, we would follow these steps:

  • 1. We determine what the need is.
  • 2. We teach the child a new way to get the need met.
  • 3. We no longer allow the child to get the need met in the inappropriate way.
  • 4. We teach any missing foundational skills.

Our Approach -
How Does it Work?

For example, Fabio is given a math assignment. He rips the math assignment and screams “No!” In the past, Fabio has been sent to time out. In this instance, it appears that Fabio is ripping his math work so he does not have to do the math. So, we would follow the above protocol:


We determine that the behavior is maintained by “escape”. By sending him to time out, he is escaping math work.


In therapy, we would teach Fabio to ask for a break (it may be a visual card, a gesture, or a calm verbal request) so he can escape the work when he needs to.


We would ensure that staff had extra math sheets to replace the ones Fabio destroys. We would continue to represent the math sheets until Fabio asked appropriately for a break or completed the work (this would be approached using different levels of support depending on the needs of the child).


We would create programming to teach the math skills and tolerance for difficult tasks to deal with the underlying issue.

Increasing Behaviors

When we identify that a child needs to improve on a skill-set, we break that skill into small parts and teach each piece individually. Once the pieces are mastered, we move onto the next skill.

Once she is making progress on these goals, we would encourage her to play with a sibling or a parent or a safe adult. After that is mastered, we would help her implement the skills at the playground.

Our Approach -
How Does it Work?

For example, if 5 year old Sarah is having trouble making friends at the park, we would break the play skills into small parts;


We might teach Sarah to imitate us when we move (this is how most play starts at age 5).


We might teach Sarah the steps of a game like tag.


We might pair her favorite activities with the new games to improve their appeal.


We might teach her game playing rules (turn taking, choosing who goes first, etc).


We might teach her a conversation script to initiate play and how to respond if someone asks her to play.

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