What is ABA?


ABA is the science of understanding, analysing and changing behaviour. It entails a comprehensive programme for teaching skills across all domains, from the linguistic, cognitive, academic and social, to mundane daily tasks like getting dressed, brushing one’s teeth, and most importantly, going to the toilet independently.

Through ABA, desired behaviours and skills can become permanent parts of a child’s repertoire, if they are broken down into components that the child can handle, taught well enough, learned early enough, and practised consistently enough.

Everything ­– from abstaining from screaming/tantrums/hurting oneself, to sleeping through the night and playing appropriately with toys, to speaking and interacting with peers ­– can be successfully ‘shaped’ or taught through ABA methodology.

ABA is also highly effective for teaching academic skills such as reading and writing. However, it cannot be seen as a ‘cure’ for autism, since not all children learn at the same rate or with the same degree of success.

What the studies indicate is that if children with autism receive intensive ABA intervention, consisting of at least 30 hours one-to-one tuition per week for two to three years during early childhood, roughly half of them will achieve levels of normalcy that allow them to join mainstream schooling.

While the others may need ongoing ABA education, the majority make the kind of steady improvement that removes the need for future institutional care. Studies show that on average, children with autism who receive early intensive ABA go on to save the state €4.3 million euros over their lifetimes.