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What is ABA? Applied Behavior Analysis

Updated: Apr 7

The Science, The Process, The Training, The Outcome, The Cost


Written by: Sindy Victor, MS, BCBA, LBA


Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a science devoted to the understanding and improvement of human behavior. Experimental methods are applied to socially significant behaviors, or behaviors that impact society, and measured to demonstrate a reliable relationship between the intervention & the behavior that was changed. ABA practices are clinically overseen by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and delivered by a team of certified paraprofessionals, known as Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT).


In Practice


Swarthy Lion Behavioral Health & Wellness, provides ABA therapy services for individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and this article will focus solely on ABA as it relates to the treatment of this population.


ABA Therapy is considered the "gold standard treatment" for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. According to, Dr. Ivar Lovaas 90% of children who receive applied behavior analysis (ABA) based support services achieve success (Lovaas, O. I., 1987). The science can also be used to treat behavioral deficits related to:

  • anxiety/depression

  • drug/substance abuse

  • eating disorders

  • hyper sexual behavior

  • phobia

  • anger issues, and more!

The process of receiving our behavior analytic services begins with, an initial consultation and assessment. (Click here to schedule an initial consultation).


Consultation and Assessment


Effective ASD treatment looks different for every learner. For this reason, a parent or caregiver should reach out to a BCBA and provide specific details about their child's needs. The information provided will be used to formulate the basis of a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) as needed per each learner's intervention planning. Standardized assessment tools such as the VB-Mapp, ABLS, AFLS, or Vineland will be used to measure a child or teenager's current functioning levels and behavioral milestones. Caregivers should select "Our Services" > "Autism (ABA) Therapy" in order to schedule an initial consultation and brief parent interview.


Our BCBA, will then schedule an observation time to interact with your child or loved one in-person to make direct observations about their behavior, communication levels, and related skills/areas of concern. This visit will take place in the desired treatment setting to observe the learner engaging with his or her natural activities, meetings can also be conducted at your child's school or in collaboration with speech or occupational therapy services, with the completion of our Informed Consent document. Remote therapy services require a virtual observation with caregivers hands-on and present.


Intervention Planning


Following the initial consultation and assessment, the clinician will develop an individualized treatment plan inclusive of a behavior reduction and skill acquisition plan that are tailored to your learner's needs. The plan will also include target objectives for parents to carryover treatment strategies that promote lasting change.


Our Intervention Methods



Our Early Intervention services offer your little learners the greatest opportunity for lasting change. Ideal for children with autism and related developmental disabilities between the ages of 24 months to 6 years old, embedded in our practices are behavior analytic principles of reinforcement, punishment, and extinction. Early intervention aims to accelerate the rate of child learning and foster new growth & development (Landa, 2018).


Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT) methods involve breaking skills down into simplified steps and teaching those skills to children systematically. Children get rewards for all of their achievements, which encourages them to continue learning. An ideal instructional setting for direct instruction should be modified to accomodate the learner's behavioral needs to encourage best results. Click here to download a FREE pdf copy of a rewards chart that can be used at home to keep your little learner motivated throughout the day!


Natural Environment Teaching (NET) methods involve using the motivation of the child (by incorporating interest areas) to learn new and socially significant skills. NET is frequently used with individuals who are on the autism spectrum as a way to help with the generalization of skills. Generalization is when a child is able to apply the skills that they learn in one setting to other settings, even new or unfamiliar environments. This may be helpful with feeding, for example, if your little learner has difficulty eating certain foods at home but will eat them in school, an ABA therapist can offer systematic rewards for eating the same food across environments. Learn more about our intervention methods here.


Parent Training & Consultation


Contact Us for ABA Parent Training & Consultation!

Parents are encouraged to actively participate in our treatment services and will receive training to implement reinforcement techniques in the home. We believe the natural bond between a caregiver and their child is the most reinforcing (motivating) connection that can be maintained in a learner's development. Parents and caregivers who participate in therapy services and receive formal training from a BCBA increase the likelihood of their child's success.


Treatment Outcomes


Outcomes for ABA treatment will vary across learners, as well as, length and duration of treatment. Typical recommendations for ABA service hours range from 24-40 service hours per week but can be as few as 10 hours per week. Responses to therapy heavily rely on data collection results, and are based on the learner's needs. Treatment services may last anywhere from a few months to several years with proven medical necessity through ongoing assessment and evaluation by your BCBA.


ABA often helps children improve in some of the following areas:

  • Encourages children to show more interest in the world around them

  • Helps children become more verbal or increase their communication skills

  • Interventions work to reduce or discontinue self-harming/physically aggressive behaviors

  • Teaches children to ask for their preferences/activities without being disruptive

  • Strengthens independence with task completion (learn to organize his or her tasks and complete activities from start to finish)!

Remote and In-Home/Community Based Treatment


Our home and community based therapy services include 1:1 direct support from a trained ABA professional in the learner's natural environment. A BCBA will provide ongoing supervision and training to an RBT in the direct care setting. Remote teletherapy services are also available upon request.

Contact Us To Request ABA Therapy Services Today!

Cost of Therapy


At Swarthy Lion Behavioral Health & Wellness, we believe services should be quality, accessible, and effective. For this reason we are now accepting clients insured by Georgia Medicaid and its managed care providers. This typically results in no out of pocket costs for most authorized members! We are currently in network with Aetna, Anthem, Cigna, Tricare East, Georgia Medicaid and its managed care health plans: Amerigroup, Caresource, and Peach State Health Plan. Families with medicaid coverage typically receive coverage with no out of pocket costs. Co-payments will be covered by the insured. Out-of-pocket costs for individuals uninsured or underinsured will be based on assessment and can be confirmed by contacting: build@swarthylion.com.


Schedule your free consultation with us and we will be happy to assist you with any additional medical insurance & billing related questions!



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