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Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is an evidence based approach to objectively defining socially significant behavior.  Data is derived to create function based interventions increasing appropriate behaviors and responses while decreasing unwanted behaviors and inappropriate responses.

In the field of ABA, the technical definition of behavior is anything that we do involving actions and response to our natural environment. These behaviors must be observable and measurable.

For example: Kendall wants a banana and starts crying and screaming on the kitchen floor (unwanted behavior).  Kendall’s mom goes into the kitchen and gives him the banana reinforcing his crying and whining.

Applied Behavior analysis uses motivating operants, reinforcement, and environment control to teach the appropriate or desired behavior to get the banana.  Positively reinforcing preferred behaviors increase the likelihood of them occurring again.

For example: Kendall wants a banana.  He goes into the kitchen and starts crying and screaming on the floor.  Kendall’s therapist physically helps Kendall stand up and point to the banana.  She gives Kendall a small piece of the banana, reinforcing his pointing, and puts the banana back on the counter.  Kendall starts to whine and cry when he wants more of the banana, his therapist points to the banana and says “banana”.  Kendall looks at the therapist and points at the banana.  He is reinforced with a larger piece of the banana.  The banana is then placed back on the counter.  Kendall points to the banana without whining or crying and is immediately reinforced by being provided with the entire banana.

The examples provide a practical example of ignoring non preferred behavior in effort to reduce them and replacing them with more appropriate behavior reinforcing them increasing the likelihood that they will happen again.