ABA Therapy

Applied Behavior Analysis

ABA therapy is based on the principals of Applied Behavior Analysis and uses empirically based interventions to change the antecedents and consequences surrounding behaviors in order to obtain behavior change. ABA therapy uses principles of learning theory to teach socially relevant behaviors. ABA uses reinforcement to shape and prompt new behaviors from clients. One method of ABA is the use of Discrete Trial Training to teach various skills to individuals with developmental disabilities including autism. ABA therapy is provided in the clinic, community, and home settings and involves an individualized assessment of skills and progress monitoring throughout the therapy.

Programs begin by assessing current levels of functioning, followed by basic pre-learning skills such as attending and sitting. More complex skills such as communication, social skills, safety awareness, and basic concepts (numbers, letters, shapes, colors, etc.) are integrated slowly and gradually from simple to complex.

What does ABA target?

ABA can target a variety of areas including:

  • Verbal Behavior (speaking, signing, picture exchanges, AAC)

  • Behavior Management (tantrums, compliance, aggression, self-injury)

  • Social Skills (sharing, coping, waiting, etc.)

  • Adaptive Skills (toilet training, tying shoes, riding bikes, dressing, feeding, etc.)

  • Academic Skills (reading, math, writing, fluency, etc.)


How we pick skills to target.

Assessments such as the Assessment of Basic Learning and Language Skills, Revised (ABLLS-R), and the Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP) are often utilized to help determine functioning levels and treatment goals. Data is collected throughout the session and used to decide when to change goals and add new skills. 


Starting ABA Therapy

Intake and Initial Assessments

All clients start the process at Will’s Way with a parent/caregiver intake or interview. This initial interview allows the family to provide valuable information about the client and for the therapists to gather information about the client's background and presenting concerns. It is also beneficial to have information regarding previous evaluations, IEPs, reports from OT/PT/SLP, and previous ABA therapy records, if applicable.


Following the initial intake, an assessment measure is chosen, and data is gathered from interviews, direct observations, and direct testing to determine the current level of functioning of the client. The time allocated to a thorough assessment will result in improved interventions and results for clients. Assessment measures used vary based on the client's need and functioning level and may include one or more of the following: Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills - Revised (ABLLS-R), Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment Placement Program (VB- MAPP), Pervasive Developmental Disorder Behavior Inventory (PPDBI), PEAK Assessment, Skills Streaming Social Skills Curriculum,), and/or a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA). Assessments are re-administered every 6 months to measure progress and growth.


Treatment Plan

Following the assessment, a comprehensive assessment report is completed and an individualized treatment plan is generated to address the behavior excesses and skills deficits identified. The treatment plan will include skills targeted, methods of treatment, recommendation for number of hours of services per week in addition to parent training goals. The treatment plan developed will be continuously revised in consultation with you as your child gains skills, demonstrates different behaviors or requires different methods for learning. Skills targeted may be across multiple areas including but not limited to the following: Communication, Social, Adaptive, Motor, Behavior, and Academic.


The treatment plan is written and submitted to your insurer to authorize services. At times, insurance companies require paperwork from families. Delays in completing this paperwork might result in a delay or temporary pause in treatment. Treatment will not begin or continue until services are authorized and approved by your insurance provider.



Treatment services include direct client therapy as well as parent training. Duration and frequency of services per week will vary per client and is based on assessment results and client availability. Direct therapy services are provided by the Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) with the direct supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA or BCBA-D) or a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) in the clinic setting. Treatment consists of Discrete Trial Teaching, Natural Environment Training, and Parent Training.