The Seven Dimensions of ABA

10/22/2019 by Megan Moore, BCBA

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is defined as “the science in which the principles of the analysis of behavior are applied systematically to improve socially significant behavior and experimentation is used to identify the variables responsible for behavior change.” This definition can be overwhelming, but in this post we break down the defining characteristics and dimensions of ABA in a way that is much easier to understand.

1. Applied

We focus on behaviors that are socially significant to the individual and their life. We target behaviors that matter to them and that will affect their lives in a positive way. For example, we aren’t going to focus on teaching an individual who lives with his parents in Florida how to shovel snow. However, that might be a socially significant behavior for an individual living by himself in Nebraska.

2. Behavioral

We only target behaviors that can be seen and measured. For example, your child’s Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) can’t target anxiety, because that is something that happens inside the body and mind and can’t be directly seen or measured. However, behaviors that often associated with anxiety could be targeted, such as crying, pacing, and running away.

3. Analytic

First and foremost, ABA is an evidence-based science. What does this mean? It means that everything we do and every intervention we use has years of data, research, and evidence behind it, proving objectively that it is effective in making the changes we want to see. While there may be some trial-and-error when finding out which data-driven intervention works best for your child, nothing is ever subjective or made up on the spot.

4. Technological

You will likely hear the word “objective” quite often throughout your experience with ABA. This is because everything we do is written out in such a way that only leaves one interpretation. We do this to rid our science of subjectivity, but also to make sure that our interventions can be easily replicated and replicated in the exact same way. Think about it like reading a recipe. You would rather it tell you to use exactly 1.5 teaspoons than “a couple” of teaspoons!

5. Conceptually Systematic

This is similar to Analytic, and simply means that every BCBA around the world will follow and derive their interventions from the theoretical base of ABA, not from guess work or other sciences that are not ABA.

6. Effective

We monitor your child’s progress very closely! Lack of progress is not your child’s fault; it indicates to us that the intervention being run is not effective and lets us know that we need to change something. We want to see significant changes that make your child’s life better, and if we don’t see that after an intervention has been given time to work, then we know it’s time to try something new!

7. Generality

We want your child to be able to use the skills they learn in all environments, across time, and with multiple people. This is called generalization and is something we focus on heavily when teaching your child new skills! Learning a skill in one setting is great, but the idea is to give them the most independence possible. The more ways and places your child can perform a skill, the more independent they can be.

You now have a better understanding of the seven dimensions of ABA! The process of starting therapy with your child is daunting, so we hope that knowing more about the therapy you are starting will help bring some clarity and comfort to the situation. If you have any questions about these dimensions do not hesitate to ask your child’s BCBA.

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