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Reasons Parents May Seek ABA for Their Child

Two Preschool Age Children Smiling at a Desk working on a project
Parents strive to provide the best care for their child and support them in any way they can. But sometimes it can be difficult to know specifically what kind of support will be the most beneficial.

When your child receives a diagnosis of a developmental disorder or is experiencing challenges with behavior, ABA is a service that may help.

ABA, which stands for Applied Behavior Analysis, is a widely used, research-based intervention. It uses systematic, data-driven techniques to focus on understanding and modifying behavior to improve a child’s overall functioning and quality of life.

ABA has been shown to improve several areas of a child’s development, such as social skills, communication abilities, and expressive language skills. The intervention is commonly used with children with autism, and can also benefit children without the diagnosis.

Is ABA a service that could benefit your child?

Let’s explore some of the top reasons that parents seek ABA for their child.

#1: Addressing Challenging Behaviors

A common reason that parents seek ABA services is to address a child’s challenging behaviors, such as:
  • Tantrums
  • Aggression
  • Self-injury
  • Other disruptive behaviors

In ABA, therapists help parents understand the root cause of the child’s behavior. ABA also helps to develop targeted interventions to address these behaviors.

ABA techniques used to teach alternative, more appropriate behaviors include:
  • Providing positive reinforcement
  • Prompting
  • Shaping behaviors
By consistently participating in ABA sessions in which these techniques are used, children can become motivated to repeat appropriate behaviors, therefore decreasing the challenging or undesired behaviors.

#2: Promoting Social and Communication Skills

Children with developmental disorders often struggle with social and communication skills. In fact, this is considered to be one of the defining characteristics of autism. ABA has been shown to improve social communication skills in children.

ABA can help children develop skills such as forming friendships, engaging in conversations appropriately, and interacting with others. Skills like these are systematically taught and reinforced in sessions by breaking them down into small, achievable goals.

For example, an initial goal may be to start a conversation appropriately. The child may practice using a simple script such as, “Hi, how are you?”. He or she can progress by generalizing skills through use with new people and new situations, and by adding new skills.

#3: Enhancing Academic Performance

There’s also evidence that ABA can enhance academic achievement for some children. Children with autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, or attention-related difficulties may benefit from services.

Children with autism, for example, often struggle academically due to challenges with attention, comprehension, organization, memory, and social behavior. In ABA, an individualized therapy plan can address specific academic goals to teach critical learning skills and incorporate teaching strategies into classroom curriculums.

#4: Building Independence and Life Skills

ABA intervention can help a child develop independence by improving their self-management skills.This set of skills includes emotional awareness, problem solving abilities, impulse control, mindfulness, and stress management.

Some parents seek ABA services to help their child develop adaptive skills such as:
  • Personal hygiene
  • Potty training
  • Dressing
  • Self-care
Intervention focuses on breaking these skills down into smaller, more manageable steps. Children are provided with consistent reinforcement that empowers them to become more self-sufficient, allowing the child to more independently navigate daily activities.

#5: Generalizing Skills Across Settings

Parents may seek ABA services to help their child carry over learned skills into different environments.

An important component of Applied Behavior Analysis is the generalization of skills across different settings and people. Skills learned in therapy sessions are then practiced and reinforced in real-life situations, such as at school, community settings, and in the home.

Therapists can often accompany the parent and child to places that may trigger negative behaviors or that are seen as difficult situations for the child. This might include the grocery store or a children’s museum. The therapist, parent, and child can then implement strategies learned in previous sessions to generalize the preferred behaviors.
As another example, ABA can help a child who has worked on academic skills in one environment (such as through completing assignments in a resource room) to the classroom.

#6: Individualized, Data-Driven Approach

ABA is known for its individualized, data-driven approach. Parents may seek ABA services because treatment plans are typically individualized to meet the specific needs and goals of each child.
The therapist starts by completing a comprehensive assessment and may complete interviews with parents, therapists, teachers, and others involved in the child’s care. Through this, the ABA provider identifies specific areas to focus on, develops measurable goals, and tracks progress through recording data.
Tracking and evaluating data allows parents and therapists to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions. This allows them to modify strategies or goals as needed to ensure that the child makes optimal progress.

#7: Receiving a Diagnosis of ASD or Intellectual/Developmental Disability

ABA is widely recognized as a recommended behavioral therapy intervention for individuals with autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disabilities, and developmental disabilities.

A study released by the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that approximately 64% of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder receive ABA. Autism Speaks reports ABA to be considered an evidence-based “best” practice treatment by the American Psychological Association and US Surgeon General.

Early diagnosis and intervention has been proven to lead to long-term improvements in a child’s overall intellectual ability and language skills in children with autism. Therefore, when a child receives a diagnosis of autism, starting ABA services is often recommended.

Additional Resources

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is an effective, evidence-based intervention that parents may seek for their child for several reasons. ABA can address challenging behaviors, promote social and communication skills, and enhance academic performance through an individualized, data-driven approach.
Parents often seek ABA when their child receives a diagnosis of autism, intellectual disability, or developmental disability because these services can also build the child’s independence, develop life skills, and help the child generalize skills across settings.

TherapyWorks offers ABA in addition to Speech Therapy, Occupational and Physical Therapy both in person (in Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio) and through teletherapy (nationwide). If you would like to learn more, or discuss your child’s specific needs, please don’t hesitate to reach out to TherapyWorks!


Applin, J.L. (2023). Applied Behavior Analysis to Teach Academic Skills. In: Matson, J.L. (eds) Handbook of Applied Behavior Analysis. Autism and Child Psychopathology Series. Springer, Cham. DOI:

Erhard, P., Wong, T., Barnett, M., Falcomata, T. S., & Lang, R. (2022). Self-management skills and applied behavior analysis. In Handbook of autism and pervasive developmental disorder: Assessment, diagnosis, and treatment (pp. 957-973). Cham: Springer International Publishing. DOI: Self-Management Skills and Applied Behavior Analysis | SpringerLink

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