As an autism-specific therapy, ABA was originally developed by Ole Ivar Lovaas, a Norwegian-America. Drawing on behaviourist principles, Lovaas developed a model and practice which showed that the behaviour of children with autism could be modified.
As a type of behavioural therapy ABA initially focuses on discrete trials: brief periods of one-on-one instruction, during which a teacher cues a behaviour, prompts the appropriate response, and provides reinforcement to the child. Originally known as behaviour modification, ABA is now used worldwide and five decades of clinical and academic research support its practice. Many hundreds of research papers have been published on ABA for autism. This large body of knowledge has added positively to the theory and practice of ABA.
As an early intervention treatment for autism, ABA is generally a 1:1 intervention. It can be done in two ways: in the family home (home-based ABA), or in a specially designated centre (centre-based ABA). For some children, a mix of both home-based and centre-based ABA may be chosen. Some Service Providers may also provide group-based ABA. This form of therapy is often used to enhance a childs social and relationship skills, and is generally an adjunct to 1:1 intervention.
An ABA program is an instructional curriculum tailored specifically to meet the development and learning needs of your child. While 20 hours of intervention is commonly cited as the minimum number of required hours, the actual hours of intervention per week that each child receives is directly related to the childs needs and level of functioning.