ABA Therapy

What is Applied Behavior Analysis ?

Applied Behavior Analysis is the application of psychological principles of learning theory to amend behaviors in humans. This practice is now extensively being used in education.

How does ABA Therapy work?

Applied Behavior Analysis is very well known for the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is based on the science of learning and behavior. The main goal of ABA Therapy is to enhance language and communication skills, improve social skills and memory and decrease behaviors that are harmful. It is a flexible treatment, adaptive to the amendments for the needs of each individual.

Positive Reinforcement

One of the main approaches used in ABA is Positive reinforcement. If a person is rewarded for a good act, they tend to continue it and this encourages their positive behavior. In this practice therapists identify a goal behavior for the individual and every time the skill is used successfully, they reward them. This leads to the continuity and development of positive behavior.

ABC Technique

In an ABA Therapy Centre, a detailed analysis is made on behavior patterns, how is it affected by the environment and how learning takes place. ABC data is the preferred method for observing behavior. An assessment is made to gather information on a certain behavior or behaviors. ABC refers to;

1. An antecedent: this is exactly the kind of behavior that is exhibited right before the target behavior. It can be verbal, physical, a light, sound, or something else in the environment. An antecedent may come from the environment, from another person, or can be internal (personal sentiments)

2. A resulting behavior: this is the person’s response or no response to the antecedent. It can be an action, a verbal response, or something else.

3. A consequence: this is what occurs directly after the behavior. It can include positive response or no reaction at all.

Analysis from ABC can help us understand what triggers a behavior or what factors can affect it.


  • Antecedent: The teacher says “pack your color pencils”

  • Behavior: The student says ”No. I won’t”

  • Consequence: The teacher takes all the color pencils and says” we are done with the colors”

Now this is where ABA comes in

  • Antecedent: The teacher says” pack your color pencils”

  • Behavior: The student can ask” can I have five minutes?”

  • Consequence: The teacher says” Sure! You can take your time”

Regular practice can replace the negative and inappropriate behavior with positive one.

Consultation/Developing a plan

Since the ABA program is flexible, it is designed according to the needs of each individual and caters their problems accordingly. It is curated to help each individual learn and benefit from the skills that will help them become more independent.

ABA Therapy Centre at Small Steps, Dubai allows parents to consult with a therapist and discuss their child’s strengths and weaknesses. As discussed above, an analysis is made to understand the behavior patterns which will lead the trainer to write the goals for treatment. This is called functional behavior assessment (FBA). A trained behavior analyst (BCBA) formulates a plan to aid the requirements of each individual. The programs are aligned with child’s unique needs.

Goals for each individual can vary, such as:

  • Academic skills

  • Social skills

  • Motor skills

  • Self-care

  • Communication


These skills are broken into steps when a plan is designed and are taught one by one (Simple to complex)

ABA Techniques

The type of ABA therapy used can be different with several factors

  • Early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) is used for children younger than five. It helps in learning communication, social interaction, functional and adaptive skills.

  • Discrete trial training assists a child in task completion through rewards

  • Pivotal response training lets your child become self sufficient by developing his ability to chose

  • Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is all about play-based activities that target several goals at once.

  • Verbal behavior strategies can help increase their communication skills.

ABA therapy programs involve therapists, or registered behavior technicians (RBTs) who are supervised by the BCBA. They work at ABA Therapy Centres directly with children and adults with autism to help them with the development of skills and achieve the goals designed by BCBA.

Effectiveness of ABA Therapy

ABA is proved to be an evidence-based best practice treatment by the US Surgeon General and by the American Psychological Association. This means that it has passed certain scientific tests of quality and effectiveness.