Technically speaking, ABA, or Applied Behavior Analysis is the science in which behavior principles are applied systematically to improve socially significant behavior. ABA analyzes variables contributing to behavior change and scientifically measures change in behavior as a result of change in these variables. What does that mean? ABA is about changing behavior, but it is also about learning. ABA uses reinforcement to teach new skills and expand repertoires, and as a result of these new skills, challenging behaviors become ineffective and efficient. Although the science of ABA involves the use of specific learning principles, how these principles are applied can vary dramatically from highly structured procedures such as Discrete Trial Teaching to naturalistic approaches such as PRT. An essential part of ABA involves data collection on the behaviors of interest. Only through ongoing data collection and analysis can meaningful progress be obtained and learning be maximized in any individual.
ABA is most known for its application with children with autism and other developmental disabilities. However, ABA is applied across a wide range of areas including: education, gerontology, health and exercise, industrial safety, language acquisition, littering, medical procedures, parenting, seatbelt use, severe mental disorders, sports, AIDS prevention, conservation of natural resources, zoo management and care of animals.