What is ABA?

Woman and child playing gameThe practice of ABA is focused on identifying the conditions and circumstances in which your child is most motivated to learn, and how best to maximize these conditions to enhance learning for your child. ABA uses a customized approach to intervention — in collaboration with parents, each child’s needs, strengths, and preferences are identified. Once an individualized learning plan is developed, it is continually refined and modified over time. Parents are partners and work with us every step of the way in identifying goals and selecting approaches to instruction and intervention. We work as a team to carefully craft your child’s unique ABA-based learning profile.

ABA focuses on developing skills so people with autism can lead independent, healthy, and happy lives. Our early learning curriculum, which has been developed and refined over the last 30 years, focuses on developing independence in communication, understanding language, and early social behavior and play skills during highly motivating and engaging interactions. ABA is effective across an individual’s lifespan. Our high school and adult programs apply ABA-based interventions to teach behaviors essential for independent living, self-advocacy, and employment.

A core feature of ABA and Alpine’s approach is that emphasis is placed on relationship building with your child to ensure a positive connection with our clinicians, and to increase your child’s motivation to engage in learning activities. Additionally, a hallmark of ABA is that data are collected on clinician and learner behavior to allow objective assessment of your child’s progress, and to ensure that changes are made to instruction when things are not progressing.

Interventions based on ABA have been scientifically shown to be effective for a wide variety of concerns, not just autism. Because ABA applied to autism has the largest research base, it is the most well-known for its positive impact as an autism intervention. Decades of research have shown that ABA treatment is safe and effective and has been recognized by a number of governmental and medical entities, such as the U.S. Surgeon General, The American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Institutes of Mental Health.

Professionals who implement interventions based on ABA have specialized training and credentials. Therapists who directly implement interventions, often called Registered Behavior Technicians, are well-trained and supervised by Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA). BCBAs must meet specific graduate level course requirements and professional field work experience in order to sit for a comprehensive examination leading to certification.  

How does ABA work?

Within ABA instruction, complex skills are broken down into smaller steps so your child can be successful along the way to learning more complex responses. We identify how your child learns best and use positive consequences to enhance your child’s motivation to participate in learning. Some skills are taught in structured teaching interactions and others in more natural social activities. All teaching interactions are highly engaging and guided by a collaborative, person-centered approach. 

Challenging behavior, or behavior that interferes with learning, is carefully assessed by direct observation to identify patterns in behavior and environmental events. The goal is to identify circumstances when the behavior occurs most often, and why the behavior is occurring in the first place. When we observe certain patterns in behavior and environmental events, we proactively arrange the environment so that the behavior does not occur and we teach your child functional skills, such as a way to communicate, instead of engaging in the behavior. ABA focuses on changing the environment and teaching skills, rather than simply reducing behavior.  

Alpine uses a contemporary approach to ABA. Our methods are informed by the most recent research findings as well as our own 30 years of applied research and clinical experience. ABA approaches have been documented to address a wide range of skills such as joint attention, social skills with siblings, self-monitoring, asking questions, making choices, learning through observation, safety behavior, and employment skills. Alpine’s expert approach has a distinct focus on collaboration with — and compassion toward — the person with autism and their family. 

What is an example of an intervention based on
Applied Behavior Analysis?

ABA relies on carefully designed assessments, systematic observations, and collaboration with family members to create your child’s unique learning profile. This profile identifies your child’s strengths and skill deficits, and preferences. From this learning profile, specific goals are targeted and strategies to teach these goals are identified. For example, it may be determined that your child could benefit from instruction in how to communicate more effectively when they want something. 

A common ABA strategy, incidental teaching, could be used to teach your child to request items that they want. A learning program would be designed that identifies the context in which your child is highly motivated to communicate (e.g., they like toy trains on a track). During the teaching session, a therapist would capture your child’s motivation for the train and model a communicative response, such as, “want train,” for your child to imitate in order to obtain the toy train. Eventually, through repeated opportunities to imitate the response, your child may begin to say, “want train” on their own. Over time, the therapist would model more complex responses for your child to imitate (e.g., “can I have the train, please?”). A core feature of ABA and Alpine’s approach is to engage family members in treatment; you would be coached to implement similar motivation sessions with your child throughout naturally occurring activities in the home and community.

For more information about applied behavior analysis and autism treatment, please visit:

Learn More About Our Services

Please contact Caren Gans, Alpine’s Intake Coordinator, using the following form
or via phone at 201-612-7800 x305

Please contact Caren Gans,
Alpine’s Intake Coordinator,
using the following form
or via phone at
201-612-7800 x305