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Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, is the scientific foundation of the FBA. ABA is primarily concerned with assessing behavior in the context of the event that immediately precedes it (antecedent) and its consequence, which is the event that occurs following the behavior. By analyzing the relationship between antecedent, behavior, and consequence (ABC), clinicians are able to draw useful treatment conclusions that have already been proven to work thousands of times in the literature. Antecedents and consequences can be tweaked in order to “cut off supply” to negative behaviors and funnel it instead to new, socially acceptable behaviors. For example, feeding a child before going to the store and providing them with candy immediately after entering the store is an antecedent modification that would make it less likely the child will want candy at the register due to already being full and having candy available. With practice, the child can learn to ask for candy nicely (called a replacement behavior because it serves the same function as the challenging behavior). On the consequence end, the child now only receives candy at the register if they’ve asked nicely, without crying. Crying now goes unrewarded, and after a short period of higher intensity, it will eventually completely stop occurring in this context. There is a saying, “behavior goes where reinforcement flows.” For every challenging behavior, there’s at least one skill deficit at play.

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