The MADSEC Autism Task Force (2000) provides the following description of Applied Behavior Analysis:
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the science of human behavior. Over the past 30 years, several thousand published research studies have documented the effectiveness of ABA across a wide range of:
- populations (children and adults with, mental illness, developmental disabilities and learning disorders)
- interventionists (parents, teachers and staff)
- settings (schools, homes, institutions, group homes, hospitals and business offices), and
- behaviors (language; social, academic, leisure and functional life skills; aggression, self injury, oppositional and stereotyped behaviors)
Applied behavior analysis is the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree, and to demonstrate that the interventions employed are responsible for the improvement in behavior (Baer, Wolf & Risley, 1968; Sulzer-Azaroff & Mayer, 1991).
Socially significant behaviors include reading, academics, social skills, communication, and adaptive living skills. Adaptive living skills include gross and fine motor skills, eating and food preparation, toileting, dressing, personal self-care, domestic skills, time and punctuality, money and value, home and community orientation, and work skills.