Consumer Corner

What follows is the Executive Summary of a white paper published by the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts (APBA) in May 2017. APBA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote and advance the science-based practice of behavior analysis by advocating for public policies and informing, supporting, and protecting practitioners and consumers. Memberships are available for professionals in behavior analysis and other fields, students, consumers, and Registered Behavior Technicians™. The complete white paper is available to the public and we encourage ASAT readers to disseminate it widely.

Gina Green, PhD, BCBA-D

CEO, APBA | ASAT Co-Founder and Advisory Board Member

Demand for applied behavior analysis (ABA) services has accelerated rapidly since the early 1990s. Although it is only one of many areas of application, much of the increase has been in the realm of interventions for individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Families of people with ASD have played a major role in advocating for public policies to increase the availability of – and funding for – ABA services. Those efforts have produced many benefits; however, the increased demand and funding have also spawned widespread confusion, misunderstandings, and misrepresentations regarding behavior analysis, its applications, and qualifications for practicing ABA professionally.

This white paper aims to dispel some of the most common misconceptions about behavior analysis and to help consumers, members of various professions, funders, and policymakers differentiate ABA interventions from others. It presents key facts about the defining features of the discipline with supporting documentation:

  • Behavior analysis is a natural science with concepts, research methods, and principles (natural laws of behavior) that distinguish it from the social sciences.
  • The applied branch of the discipline – ABA – originated as a blend of the experimental analysis of behavior and information about human development. From the beginning, ABA incorporated naturalistic as well as structured intervention techniques implemented in a variety of everyday settings.
  • Abundant scientific research documents the effectiveness of a large array of ABA procedures for building useful skills and reducing problem behaviors in people with and without specific diagnoses.
  • The features of ABA interventions have been defined since 1968.
  • The practice of ABA is a profession. Well-established, accredited credentialing programs for practitioners of ABA are managed by the nonprofit Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). Results of extensive job analysis studies conducted by the BACB over the past 15+ years, together with case law and best practices in professional credentialing, have served as the basis for the competencies, degrees, coursework, supervised experience, and professional examinations required to obtain BACB credentials. The requirements parallel those of many other professions. The BACB credentials are recognized in many laws and regulations as qualifications for practicing ABA.

Genuine ABA interventions have all the defining features of ABA and are designed and overseen by appropriately credentialed professionals.

Citation for this article:

Green, G. (2018). Consumer corner: Identifying applied behavior analysis Interventions. Science in Autism Treatment, 15(2), 6.

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