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Exploring the Different Types of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Interventions

Understanding the different approaches of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

There are various categories of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) interventions. For families with children struggling with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), it can be overwhelming to comprehend exactly which ABA approach is best for their child. To have an addition to their concerns is probably the last thing they need. Finding themselves surrounded by anxieties, both new and old, may make one feel lost and helpless. This can also, in consequence, adversely affect their role in helping with autism treatment, in association with healthcare professionals. To thoroughly familiarize with the number of distinctive ABA intervention techniques, we must first understand the larger classifications of ABA methods.


An Overview of ABA Program Structures

Keeping in mind the distinctions provided by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), there are two main types of ABA methods: the “focused” method and the “comprehensive” method.


The comprehensive model is what is commonly associated with ABA therapy. It targets a number of developmental deficits, including cognitive, emotional, communicative, social and adaptive functions. It furthermore concentrates on treatment of problem behaviors, like noncompliance, tantrums, and stereotypy. Though very young children start off with a lower level of intensity, this program structure normally involves 30 to 40 hours of one on one treatment per week; not including caregiver training, supervision and other special services. The hours are subsequently increased or decreased depending on the child’s response to treatment and existing requirements. The latter situation occurs only when the child has met a majority of their treatment objectives and goals, enough to have come significantly close to the completion of treatment.

In spite of it being a long stretch of time, research recommends extensive hours going into therapy so as to provide ample assistance for the child’s development. It is observed that children who miss out on the suggested hours do not progress as well as those who complete the comprehensive treatment. They may be seen to have become dependent on more intensive treatment programs.

There are many different approaches employed under the comprehensive method. An example of comprehensive treatment is Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI), where the main objective is to bridge the developmental gap existent between the autistic child and their typically developing peers.


A less intensive model of ABA treatment, the focused program structure deals with a limited number of behavior outcomes. While programs for extreme problem behaviors may require more than 25 hours per week of direct therapy, this treatment generally employs 10 to 25 hours a week of direct treatment, including direct and indirect supervision, and caregiver training.

Attention is majorly given to the reduction of problem behaviors, such as aggression, and the increasing of socially appropriate behavior. Even if the primary target is the former, the latter is still stressed upon for the connection between the two strategies- the absence of appropriate behaviors can be precursors to maladaptive behaviors.

In the former situation, the behavior analyst will conduct a functional analysis procedure to determine the function or potential purpose of the problem behavior. This will help the analyst develop the most effective treatment protocol. Conversely, the latter situation requires treatment which may be either delivered in an individual format, or in a small group setting.

In some cases, where autistic individuals exhibit co-occurring extreme destructive behavior disorders, behavior analysts will provide separate and distinct diagnoses.

Other ABA Program Structures

Other treatment programs categorized under Applied Behavior Analysis include:

  • Parent Training: This model provides parents with an active knowledge of ABA strategies that they can use with their child. It also employs the ABA methodology to teach and enhance parent- and client-specific program objectives.
  • Home-based: Akin to one on one instructional programs, this model of ABA therapy directly addresses requirements that are most prevalent for the child at home, including sleep training, daily activities and routines, transitions to and from the home, and mealtime routines, etc.
  • School-based: With slightly varying priorities, the target of school-based ABA therapy is to increase access and participation of the child within the academic environment.
  • Community-based: The focus, here, is on personal safety and social skills within the community. This may include practicing riding the bus, or learning socially appropriate behavior in public areas like the museum.


Types of Behavioral Interventions

There are multiple kinds of interventions employed by applied behavior analysts for the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

  • Behavioral Interventions
    Behavioral interventions focus on the promotion of appropriate behaviors, and the discouraging of problem behaviors. The major concern for applied behavioral analysts is the breaking down of target behaviors into small and achievable tasks that are constantly reinforced with structure and encouragement. Examples of behavioral interventions include Discreet Trial Training (DTT), Early Intensive Behavior Intervention (EIBI), Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), Verbal Behavior Intervention (VBI) and Pivotal Response Training (PRT), etc.
  • Relationship Interventions
    Family-based behavioral treatments, these interventions are designed to focus on certain problem behaviors. It is based on the idea that familial relationships play a significant role in behavioral improvement.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Interventions
    Alternatively termed CBIs, it is typically employed by mental health professionals working in the academic sphere. The goal is cognitive restructuring- that is, to identify destructive thought patterns and to replace them with positive cognitive thought patterns.
  • Positive Behavior Support
    Often shortened to PBS, this approach employs environmental interventions, based off of the belief that the environment influences behavior. It depends on preemptive controls and stimuli in the environment; and can use educational techniques to observe and alter the individual’s behavioral habits through removing negative environmental stimuli.


Types of ABA Interventions

The various types of interventions applied as part of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy have distinct characteristics and procedures. This may be why ABA is considered an optimal mode of autism treatment by scientists, as it tends to unique concerns and focuses on different outcomes. It may also be why most inclusion centers and treatment programs opt for this mode of therapy, including Small Steps Big Dreams in Dubai, UAE. In fact, ABA therapy is not only an appropriate treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder, but for many other behavioral disorders as well.

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