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Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis: ABA 101

Now that the Michigan School Psychological Clinic is open in its permanent home, our student clinicians studying Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) are able to conduct in-person services, following all CDC safety guidelines. Jodie Mientkiewicz, MA, BCBA, our ABA Clinic Supervisor wrote the following blog to answer common questions about ABA.

For most people, Applied Behavior Analysis is synonymous with Autism, and since Michigan’s Autism Insurance Legislation went into effect in October 2012, it is no wonder, as there was a “boom” in autism therapy.  However, Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA as it is known, can be used for so much more.  

As a former special educator and current BCBA, I have had first hand experience watching this therapy change not only behaviors, but individuals (and families) lives as well.

What is ABA?

Applied Behavior Analysis, simply put, is the science of learning why behaviors happen, and how to take them and change them into more socially significant behaviors.  For example, a child who may not have the communication skills to say “I want my mom’s attention” may hit a sibling to get that attention, or a child who does not have pre academic skills could gain those skills through ABA therapy. 

ABA focuses on two main areas: skill acquisition and behavior reduction.  Using the principles of reinforcement, ABA therapists create individualized programs for their clients, focusing on specific areas in need of change.

Who Can Benefit From ABA?

Anyone!  The amazing thing about ABA is that it can be formatted for anyone, not just those individuals on the autism spectrum. Therapists at the clinic have used ABA when working with clients with Selective Mutism and parents looking for parent training. 

ABA can also be used with couples in need of communication support, children with ADD, adults who wish to quit smoking, and many more areas of life.

How Does it Work?

Many parents have used aspects of ABA without even realizing it!  If you, as a parent, have ever given a reward when your child has done something, you have used ABA.  If you had a system for potty training, you used ABA.  If you have ever tried to work on changing a behavior or taught your child something new, you have used ABA.  

Why is Intervention so Important?

The research literature shows that early intensive intervention for children with disabilities is one of the most impactful processes for changing behaviors.  The earlier a child begins therapy, the more successful that therapy will be.

What happens if I want to begin services for my child?

If you decide that ABA services would be beneficial for your child, or if you would like more information on our ABA services, please call the clinic (248-919-0063 ext. 202). I would be happy to answer any other questions you may have!

From there you will fill out the necessary paperwork and the BCBA will walk you through the rest of the process.

In future blogs, I look forward to exploring the different aspects, both broad and specific, of ABA, as well as giving tips and tricks of implementing procedures in the home. Stay tuned!

Photo of ABA Clinic Supervisor, Jodie Mientkiewicz, MA, BCBA, standing outside.

Jodie Mientkiewicz, MA, BCBA, is the ABA Clinic Supervisor at the Michigan School Psychological Clinic.  Prior to starting at MSP, she worked as a special education teacher for 13 years, as well as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in an ABA autism clinic. Click here to learn more about Jodie.