Applied Behaviour Analysis and Autism Ranking: Unable to rate

Aims and Claims


The aim of applied behaviour analysis is to encourage meaningful and important behaviours in individuals. For example, it may be used to develop basic skills such as looking, listening, and imitating, as well as complex skills such as reading, conversing, or taking the perspective of others.

The Maine Administrators of Services for Children with Disabilities (2000) provides a comprehensive list of possible behavioural changes.

  • “To increase behaviors (e.g. to increase on-task behavior, or social interactions) and to teach new skills (e.g., life skills, communication skills, or social skills);
  • To maintain behaviors (e.g., self control and self monitoring procedures to maintain and generalize job-related social skills);
  • To generalize or to transfer behavior from one situation or response to another (e.g., from completing assignments in the resource room to performing as well in the mainstream classroom);
  • To restrict or narrow conditions under which interfering behaviors occur (e.g., modifying the learning environment); and
  • To reduce interfering behaviors (e.g., self injury or stereotypy).”


There have been numerous claims for the use of applied behaviour analysis for individuals on the autism spectrum. For example, according to the Maine Administrators of Services for Children with Disabilities (2000),

“There is a wealth of validated and peer-reviewed studies supporting the efficacy of ABA methods to improve and sustain socially significant behaviors in every domain, in individuals with autism. Importantly, results reported include "meaningful" outcomes such as increased social skills, communication skills academic performance, and overall cognitive functioning. These reflect clinically-significant quality of life improvements. While studies varied as to the magnitude of gains, all have demonstrated long term retention of gains made.”

According to Hagopian and Boelter (2005),

 “ABA-based procedures have been implemented across a variety of settings including hospitals, schools, and homes; across a variety of forms of problem behavior including self-injurious behavior, aggression, stereotypic behavior, and pica. Additionally, ABA-based procedures have been employed to establish and increase adaptive behaviors as alternatives to problem behavior including communication, daily living skills, and academic skills.”

According to Green, G. et al. (200?),

“Competently delivered ABA intervention can help learners with autism make meaningful changes in many areas. But most learners require a great deal of carefully planned instruction and practice on most skills, so changes do not occur quickly. As mentioned earlier, quality ABA programs address a wide range of skill areas, but the focus is always on the individual learner, so goals vary from learner to learner, depending on age, level of functioning, family needs and interests, and other factors. The rate of progress also varies from one learner to the next. Some acquire skills quickly, others more slowly. In fact, an individual learner may make rapid progress in one skill area - such as reading - and need much more instruction and practice to master another, such as interacting with peers.”

31 Oct 2017
Last Review
01 Sep 2016
Next Review
01 Sep 2019