Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a form of “learning theory” in which behavior — such as how a person acts toward others, how they learn or communicate, how they develop personal awareness and care for themselves and others and more — is influenced by the surrounding events that leads up to behavior or what serves as consequences in the wake of behavior. ABA is largely based on “Operant Conditioning” popularized by B.F. Skinner’s research mostly reported from the 1930’s to 1960’s. By “functionally” assessing the relations between how we act and the situations surrounding us, an ABA system can help in both understanding how a person is acting and assist in how we teach.
“Applied Developmental Analysis” goes beyond conventional ABA in that we are interested in all forms of learning theory, which also includes forms of:
- “Classical conditioning,” which is how we learn through pairing together a stimulus (seeing the bathroom and having the ‘urge to go’) and a response (pooping!)
- The study of what is called “non-associative learning,” which is the study of boredom (how many people get tired of doing the same thing over and over again) and arousal (how we learn to get interested in new things) related to how we pay attention and learn about our environment through variations in our encounters with our surroundings
- Social Learning Theory and “modeling” of others’ behavior such as acting the ways those around us are acting
All of these methods — along with ABA — are taught together in any college course on “learning theory.” However, unfortunately most ABA practitioners focus only on learning through consequences (“Operant Conditioning”) and leave out these other important modes of learning. We rely on ABA methods as well as strategies drawn from the other forms of learning. We also know that sometimes none of these methods fit how or what we are trying to teach to a child, favoring methods from other disciplines and technologies.