Parents Guide to Understanding Applied Behavior Analysis Research
Identifying Effective Treatments Through Evidence-Based Exploration
In order to understand research in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), we must first define it. Research is the systematic evaluation of interventions. That is, research aims to identify the variables that change behavior by observing how behavior changes when an intervention is, and is not, in place.
Studying the variables that change behavior is important because it allows us to identify treatments that are most effective, in addition to ruling out treatments that are ineffective or potentially harmful. Therefore, the field of ABA is based on the findings of research.
In fact, Linda LeBlanc, PhD, BCBA-D, Executive Director of Research & Clinical Services at Trumpet Behavioral Health, has contributed over 85 articles and book chapters that have influenced the practice of ABA. You can access some of those articles at the bottom of this page.
If you are interested in finding out more about evidence-based treatments, many articles and resources are available online by searching on Google Scholar, the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT), and Autism Speaks. In addition, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) may also be useful in finding out about research that fits your interests (BCBAs may be found online through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board or through Trumpet’s ‘Ask an Expert’ inquiry form).
If you come upon research that is challenging to interpret or a treatment about which you have questions, you might consider contacting a BCBA or other professional in your child’s provider network (e.g., pediatrician or psychologist), depending on the focus of the treatment or research topic. Although many resources are available online, there are additional ways to learn about effective treatments.
Conferences such as those hosted by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI), state or regional behavior analysis associations, or autism organizations such as Autism Speaks or ASAT, present current research on a variety of topics. Although conferences provide a means for gaining information, not all exhibitors or presenters may provide services or information that is research based, so it is important to consult with a professional regarding any additional questions you may have.
Finally, if you would like to get involved with clinicians and researchers in the field, you can connect with the Autism Special Interest Group (Autism SIG) through ABAI.
- Autism SIG
- Association for Science in Autism Treatment
- Autism Speaks (http://www.autismspeaks.org/)
- Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB)