Applied Behaviour Analysis (or ABA) is the applied use of proven behaviour support for children with the goal of either increasing or decreasing targeted behaviours. ABA provides a method for therapists to scientifically measure an individual’s behaviours, understand the key causes and track progress. Once a clear picture of the individual’s behaviour has been gained, the therapist is able to create a program that improves and will support children’s positive behaviour over time, subject to continuous measurement and refinement. A large body of research supports the efficacy of ABA to significantly improve IQ and increase positive behaviour support for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Support Children’s Positive Behaviour:

ABA is one of the most effective evidence-based treatments for Autism. Symptoms of ASD can also be treated through Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Psychology or a combination of these therapies.

Some key evidence for the efficacy of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) that supports children’s positive behaviour is as follows:

  • A 2007 clinical report of the American Academy of Paediatrics concluded that the benefit of ABA-based behaviour support for children living with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) “has been well documented” and that “children who receive early intensive behavioural treatment have been shown to make substantial, sustained gains in IQ, language, academic performance, and adaptive behaviour as well as some measures of social behaviour.”
  • Researchers from the MIND Institute published an evidence-based review of comprehensive treatment approaches in 2008. On the basis of “the strength of the findings from the four best-designed, controlled studies,” they were of the opinion that the ABA-based approach to support children’s positive behaviour (the Lovaas technique created by Ole Ivar Løvaas) is “well-established” for improving intellectual performance of young children with ASD.
  • A 2009 review of psycho-educational interventions for children with autism whose mean age was six years or less at intake found that five high-quality (“Level 1” or “Level 2”) studies assessed ABA-based treatments. On the basis of these and other studies, the author concluded that ABA is “well-established” and is “demonstrated effective in enhancing global functioning in pre-school children with autism when treatment is intensive and carried out by trained therapists.”
  • A 2009 paper included a descriptive analysis, an effect size analysis, and a meta-analysis of 13 reports published from 1987 to 2007 of early intensive behavioural intervention (EIBI, a form of ABA-based treatment with origins in the Lovaas technique) for autism. It determined that EIBI’s effect sizes were “generally positive” for IQ, support children’s positive behaviour, expressive language, and receptive language. The paper did note limitations of its findings including the lack of published comparisons between EIBI and other “empirically validated treatment programs.”
  • A 2009 meta-analysis of nine studies published from 1987 to 2007 concluded that EIBI has a “large” effect on full-scale intelligence and a “moderate” effect on adaptive behaviour in autistic children.
  • In 2011, investigators from Vanderbilt University under contract with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality performed a comprehensive review of the scientific literature on ABA-based and other therapies for autism spectrum disorders; the ABA-based therapies included the UCLA/Lovaas method and the Early Start Denver Model (the latter developed by Sally Rogers and Geraldine Dawson).[98] They concluded that “both approaches were associated with … improvements in cognitive performance, language skills, and adaptive behaviour skills.”

You can read more about ABA behaviour support for children in the following resources.

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