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ABA is the practical application of what we know about how environment affects behavior, in order to address socially significant problems for individuals with disabilities. The goal is improved independent functioning at home and in the community by reinforcing constructive behaviors and improved social skills, and reducing problem behaviors like self-injury, aggression, and tantrums. The process is a careful assessment of how a person’s behavior is influenced by her/his situation. For example, drinking a glass of water is a behavior. The assessment looks at where, when, and how the behavior occurs, and considers motivations, for example the thirst that motivates you to drink a glass of water. It looks at antecedent events leading up to the behavior, like eating a salty pretzel, and consequences, or events following the behavior, like feeling happy now that your thirst has been satisfied. This logical progression is easily remembered as Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence.
In addition to meeting the stringent criteria developed by the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders, and the National Autism Center’s Standards Project, ABA practices are endorsed by the US Surgeon General, NIMH, Autism Speaks, the American Academy of Neurology, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, American Academy of Occupational Therapy Association, and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.