Applied Behavior Analysis

An Evidence-based Approach to Best Practices in the Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Capture (1)

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the science of managing and predicting human behavior. It involves the applied use of behavioral principles to everyday situations with the goal of either increasing or decreasing targeted behaviors. It also serves to improve behavior by using principles of learning theory and has been evaluated in studies utilizing reliable and objective measurement of the relationship between behavior to the environment. By functionally assessing the relationship between a targeted behavior and the environment, the methods of ABA can be used to change that behavior. ABA supports individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other conditions with related needs in many ways:

  • To increase behaviors, such as on-task behavior or social interactions
  • Teach new skills (e.g., adaptive or life skills, communication skills, or social skills);
  • To maintain behaviors (e.g., emotional self-regulation or self-control and self-monitoring to maintain and generalize social skills);
  • To generalize or to transfer behavior across individuals, settings, and situations;
  • To limit narrow conditions under which interfering behaviors occur (e.g., modifying the learning environment); and
  • To reduce interfering behaviors (e.g., self-injury).

Although ABA application in a practical environment varies based on the situation, all ABA therapy programs share certain key components that include but are not limited to the following:

  • Data collection;
  • Discrete trial teaching;
  • Verbal behavior;
  • Programming for generalization to the natural environment;
  • Reinforcement;
  • Prompting and fading strategies; and
  • Outcome-based decision-making

Why Use Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Treatment Methods

Applied behavior analytic interventions are considered evidenced based interventions and established treatments for individuals not only with Autism Spectrum Disorder but also other behavioral challenges/difficulties. Several studies have shown that ABA is effective in increasing appropriate and adaptive behaviors and teaching new skills (National Autism Center [NAC], 2015; Wong et al., 2014, 2015). In addition, many studies demonstrate that ABA is effective in reducing problem behavior (NAC, 2015). A number of studies also indicate that, when implemented intensively and early in development (e.g., prior to the age of 4 years), ABA may produce significant gains in development and reductions in the need for specialized services (Reichow, 2012). ABA interventions should be implemented by trained and qualified individuals and be supervised by qualified behavior analysts. 




Children learn how to communicate and behave in various social situations, hence their social etiquettes are strengthened.

arrow-233-512 (4)

Children learn the importance in modifying their behavior in order to complete tasks.

arrow-233-512 (1)

Children learn how to complete tasks on time.

arrow-233-512 (3)

Applied Behavior Analysis in the school setting helps children learn without any interference, as the classroom curriculum is carefully crafted.

arrow-233-512 (2)

Children are taught emotional regulation and self-monitoring skills.

arrow-233-512 (5)

Applied Behavior Analysis is a goal-oriented discipline that primarily focuses on evaluation and measurement of different behaviors.


  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a science which serves as the key underlying principle of behavior treatment at Stepping Stones Center, where we utilize evidence-based practices and treatment interventions that fall under the science of ABA and verbal behavior approaches.
  • At Stepping Stones Center, ABA is provided in a practical environment and therapy methods vary based upon the client’s individual needs, while utilizing evidence-based practices.
  • ABA sessions are conducted by Registered Behavior Technicians or equivalent certifications under ongoing supervision by qualified behavior analysts.
  • Our ABA program incorporates modified discrete trial teaching and incidental teaching modalities.
  • Reinforcement is implemented.
  • Prompting and fading strategies are utilized.
  • Outcome-based decision-making is utilized.

Within Stepping Stones Center’s treatment program, emphasis is placed on acquiring new and appropriate behaviors. When children have a repertoire of constructive and adaptive behaviors, problem behaviors often occur less frequently. Therapists are trained to ignore undesired or disruptive behavior while promoting compliance and other positive behaviors through the use of reinforcers. Reinforcers are chosen to be individualized toward the child’s interests that is appropriate for use in such contexts, such as modified DTT.

The purpose of this program is to teach children how to learn through acquiring academic, language, social, and appropriate behavioral skills. Behavioral methods enhance learning not only by teaching the child but also by replacing challenging behaviors with more functional and appropriate ones. The child’s success is closely monitored through detailed data collection.

Stepping Stones Center’s treatment program involves a range of different skills that are taught to each child while using a range of locations in which to conduct the treatment sessions, allowing for generalization and contrived situations that support acquisition of skills learned. This is done in conjunction with using particular strategies to cope with challenging behaviors, where necessary. As the child masters these skills, it becomes important to deliberately increase variability (e.g., incidental teaching opportunities) to facilitate generalization of acquired skills with other individuals and settings in the child’s natural environment. Changes in instruction are made if the collected performance data indicates that modification is needed for the child to achieve successful mastery of the skills.

A positive and systematic approach to teaching functional skills and reducing problem behavior as well as creativity and flexibility, capitalizing on the resources available for each individual child, is strongly emphasized in each child’s individualized program. The emphasis of the child’s program is guided by his/her treatment goals and objectives and may shift during the course of treatment, dependent on treatment progress and behavior, although the treatment’s general structure remains the same.

We believe that it is important to build upon a child’s successes and expand utilization of existing skills as well as encourage the development of new ones. Therefore, utilizing the child’s areas of strength and building upon them as rapidly as possible, while simultaneously attempting to offset their areas of weakness, is of great importance in our program. These teaching methods are based upon the application of a learning theory where the approach is very pragmatic. Therefore, thoughtful planning results in greater consistency across team members and leads to more successful outcomes for the child.

Our program emphasizes direct measurement of the child’s performance. Direct evaluation is crucial because it allows the treatment team to determine the child’s progress as it guides objective and clinical decision-making. The assessment and documentation of a child’s pre-intervention or baseline behavioral performance is essential for treatment planning, decision-making, and evaluating the effectiveness of the intervention. In turn, this information assists in the development of realistic objectives, establishing performance criteria, and developing task and step analyses. In addition, baseline data provides the “before” picture with which to compare treatment results (the “after” picture). Therefore, an ongoing assessment of progress toward outcomes, as measured by individualized data collection systems, continues to be a significant part of the program in order to guide the intervention process.

Data collected per treatment session reflects information that is specific to both teaching target skills and observations of behavior. In addition, regular client team meetings take place for each individual child, monthly. They serve as forums for discussions concerning the child’s treatment program and provide input for program effectiveness and needs for change. Therefore, collaboration between the family members and service providers as well as flexibility in adjusting strategies in a timely manner is key in this evaluation process. All aspects of such communication and planning are facilitated by clear and consistent treatment documentation.