How can Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) help patients with Autism?

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) is an intensive approach to treating autism with up to 40 hours a week of therapy.  This treatment breaks down a desired behavior into small steps and rewards the child for each successful behavior.

There is scientific evidence that ABA is an effective treatment for autism. A study at UCLA of 19 young children with autism reported that after two or more years of intensive early behavioral therapy 47 % of children were “indistinguishable from their normally developing peers” and another 42 % had made significant improvements.

ABA teaches social,motor, and verbal behaviors as well as reasoning skills. The goal of ABA is to determine what happens to trigger a behavior, and what happens after that behavior occurs which seems to reinforce the behavior. The idea is to remove these triggers and reinforcers from the child’s environment. New reinforcers are then used to teach the child a different behavior in response to the same trigger.

Overall, practitioners suggest that intensive ABA is appropriate for children with more profound autism. Unfortunately, no good research exists comparing interventions head to head. This means that parents must make a choice based on finances and availability of therapy, what works best for the family as a whole, and intuition. (Do you like the idea of a very structured, very intense program for your child? Do you think your child will do well in this program?) All children respond differently to many different therapies and it is good to know that there are other options available to parents such as DAN! and others.



  1. admin says

    Dear Dorya, I am unsure of your request to use the ‘picture’. Most of the pictures I got are royalty-free form online sources. I just want to warn you to be very careful about using pictures without permission or pay for as there are many ‘people’ wanting to suit you for a bunch of money. Good luck!

  2. Fauzia says

    In your article you mention intensive behavioral therapy is effective. How often would be intensive for a four years old?

  3. admin says

    Hi Fauzia, the intensity of the behavioral therapy depends on the interest, energy and health of the child. I would guess that a good 2 hours session per day for 3 times per week is good enough plus some parental times going over some of the exercises at home.

  4. Michelle says

    Hello everyone. My daughter is 6 years old and ASD diagnosed for last 2 years. She has also been on the GF/CF diet for the last 2 years and this has definitely benefited her – along with biomed programme from a DAN specialist here in UK. The reason for my post is that there is an alternative behavioural therapy for autism which is very big in the USA and has now become so in Europe – SONRISE. We have been doing Sonrise with my daughter for a year now and prior to this her language was barely a few words; she now has a huge vocabulary. Sonrise has the same goals as ABA in that it seeks to help a child with obsessive behaviours, language, eye contact/attention span etc. BUT the difference is that it is ‘child led’ and looks to achieve more ‘natural’ behavioural responses from children – it is also very unique in that if a child has quite severe ‘exclusive behaviours’ it teaches to ‘join them in their world and lead them into ours’. This is very successful in connecting and engaging with our children. I follow newautism site on here and find it very informative and so helpful, however I have never seen or heard of a post from this site regarding Sonrise which I am suprised about. Anyway, thought I’d just share it – does anyone else do Sonrise with their child? Could this site give their thoughts on Sonrise please?
    Many thanks!

  5. hamidahamouche says

    my daugther is 25 years old and rett syndrome diagnosed she has been on the diet without gluten and without caseine. how can practis the aba she has no communication verbal,but she can communicate wiyh touch,eye contact smile,crying.i follow the newautisme site and find it very rich and imformative thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>