Since then, ABA has continued to develop as a dynamic field of scientific research and innovation. Furthermore, it remains the only approach to consistently apply scientific research in teaching skills to developmentally-delayed individuals. Practitioners using its principles have helped countless children worldwide overcome the difficulties they have in understanding and responding to the world around them. 

For those responsible for their child’s development, ABA offers a straightforward means of understanding why certain behaviours occur. In doing so, family members learn to know what it is that their child is trying to tell them when problem behaviours occur. ABA also helps parents, carers, and professionals in knowing what can be done to permanently decrease or eliminate the occurrence of these behaviours, and to permanently replace them with appropriate skills. In contemporary ABA programmes, parents and other family members play as integral a role in their child’s development as any professional.

In all ABA programmes, the learning process is based upon the use of “reinforcement” as a means of increasing skills, and “extinction” as a means of reducing unwanted skills.  This is to say that a behaviour that is followed by a reinforcing stimulus will increase over time, and a behaviour which is NOT followed by a reinforcing stimulus will decrease over time. It is possible to reinforce problem behaviours inadvertently, just as it is possible to extinguish appropriate behaviours by failing to reinforce them.

A “reinforcer” is not the same as a “reward”; a reinforcer is generally a preferred item, place, person or other stimulus, but can be ANY stimulus that increases a particular behaviour.