ABA Psychological Services


Decreasing Challenging Behavior

When a child is displaying problem behavior, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, (BCBA) will conduct a comprehensive behavioral evaluation. This evaluation, known as a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA), is designed to determine exactly why the child is engaging in problem behavior. The BCBA begins by interviewing the parents, caregivers, and professionals who work with the child. If possible, the child also will be interviewed. As part of the behavioral assessment, the BCBA will observe the child’s behavior and may directly interact with the child.

Children with autism often display challenging or undesirable behavior for one or more reasons, which may include:

  1. To get attention (including negative attention)
  2. To gain access to activities, events, and material things (such as toys, games, or electronics)
  3. To escape or avoid requests they don’t want to follow, or to escape or avoid situations they don’t want to be in.

Once we determine why the problem behavior is occurring, we are able to develop a behavioral treatment plan that is designed to replace the unwanted behavior with desirable and appropriate behavior. Research has shown that this approach can be effective for both children and adults with autism. Here are two examples of how we can help:

Example #1:

At ABA Psychological Services, we identify the situations and “triggers” that evoke problem behavior. Rather than trying to decrease unwanted behavior by having the child avoid the “triggers,” we teach the child how to engage in appropriate behavior when the “trigger” is presented. For example, if a child tantrums when no one is paying attention, we teach the child how to ask for attention in an appropriate manner.

Example #2:

If a child is avoiding or acting out with other children because they lack social skills, we first do a thorough evaluation to determine what specific social skills are lacking. We then teach the child the skills necessary to derive satisfaction from playing cooperatively with others. When avoidance and acting out no longer serve a purpose, we often see these unwanted behaviors diminish or disappear completely.

In summary, to put it simply, we get rid of problem behavior by teaching children and adults how to get what they want through desirable and appropriate behavior.

Increasing Adaptive Behavior and Teaching New Skills


A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) will provide an evaluation to determine the child’s current level of functioning and skills. The BCBA will interview the parents, caregivers, and professionals who work with the child. If possible, the child also will be interviewed. After these interviews are completed, the BCBA will conduct a detailed evaluation designed to identify deficiencies in the child’s skills.

  • We focus on teaching skills that are necessary for success in life. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has been shown to be effective in the teaching of self-care skills, communication skills, social skills, independent living skills, and skills that are required to succeed in the workplace. ABA also has been used to teach children and adults skills that are necessary for the self-control of emotions such as anger.
  • Once the goals for behavioral improvement and skills training have been developed, the BCBA will work with a highly qualified paraprofessional to determine the best methods for improving the child’s behavior and teaching important skills. The paraprofessional will be responsible for implementing these teaching procedures under the supervision of the BCBA.
  • In ABA there is a tremendous focus on the progress each child is making in achieving behavioral and skills training goals. Every step of the way, for each and every goal, the child’s behavioral progress is recorded, placed on a graph, and analyzed. In this way the parents and the BCBA can clearly see the child’s progress. If the child is not making the expected progress, the BCBA will make changes to the teaching procedures. New and more advanced goals will be developed when the child achieves the current goals.

With all of our children and adults with an autism spectrum disorder, we work to increase social, behavioral, academic, and language development so that each individual can lead a more constructive and meaningful life. All of our treatment programs for children and adults are precisely tailored to meet the specific needs of each individual.