The Principles of ABA

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A young boy with autism playing with lettered building blocks
Published:  June 13, 2023

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has been proven to be highly effective in helping children with autism thrive. ABA therapy looks at the reasons for specific behaviors related to autism, and then uses positive reinforcement to encourage desired behaviors. Understanding the core principles and functions of ABA can help you better understand how this treatment can help your child flourish and reach their full potential.

Understanding the 4 Principles of ABA

ABA, or Applied Behavior Analysis, is a scientific and evidence-based approach used to improve social, communication, and self-help behaviors in young children with autism during a key developmental time. ABA therapy services involve breaking down complex skills into small, manageable steps using a variety of strategies personalized to each child’s interests and abilities.

The core principles of ABA dictate how this form of treatment is facilitated and include:

  1. Behaviors are developed through the natural environment: ABA therapy is based on an understanding that children learn from their environment, and behavior is developed over time through reactions to different stimuli.
  2. Behaviors can be changed through different forms of reinforcement: Praise and rewards are used to encourage desired behaviors, while differential reinforcement works by withholding praise for undesired behaviors
  3. Positive reinforcement is the most effective in changing behavior: Positive reinforcement is the most effective way to encourage desired behavior and is more powerful than punishment, which can often have a negative impact. At Wellspring we do not incorporate punishing techniques into our ABA programs and instead rely on constant preference assessments to assure we are able to utilize reinforcement.
  4. Consistent reinforcement is needed for meaningful change: ABA therapy is an ongoing process that requires continuous reinforcement and monitoring. Through reassessments, ABA can progress alongside a child’s success.

Wellspring Learning Centers uses these core principles as the foundation of our ABA therapy programs. Using this understanding of behavior combined with compassionate and nurturing care, we can help your child reach their goals.

“Our child led approach sets the occasion for children to learn in a naturalistic way and facilitate generalization of these skills gained,” Wellspring Behavior Analyst Gerardo states. “Following this naturalistic approach allows us to reinforce behaviors in a multitude of ways, from therapist praise, to peer interactions and access to preferred activities. Relying on these various forms of reinforcement and synthesized reinforcement conditions, we can assure our learners are constantly coming in contact with reinforcement, as opposed to punishing contingencies.”

The 7 Dimensions of ABA Therapy

The 7 dimensions of ABA therapy highlight the important parts that Board Certified Behavior Analysts and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT) use to develop engaging and effective treatment plans for children.


The applied dimension of ABA therapy emphasizes the implementation of learned skills. BCBAs work closely with children to identify specific goals that are relevant to their daily lives, such as communication, social skills, and self-help skills. By focusing on key functional skills, ABA therapy ensures children can transfer their learning to various environments and situations.


The behavioral dimension of ABA therapy centers around the analysis and modification of behaviors. BCBAs carefully assess and analyze children’s behavior to understand its functions, triggers, and consequences. Through systematic observation and data collection, BCBAs design treatment plans to increase positive behaviors while decreasing maladaptive behaviors.


The analytic dimension of ABA therapy emphasizes the importance of data-based decision-making. BCBAs use data collection through reassessments and observation to determine the effectiveness of strategies. By continuously analyzing data, therapists can modify treatment plans and better track progress to ensure optimal outcomes for each child.

At Wellspring Learning Centers, data plays a crucial role in a child’s programming, this allows the behavior analyst to identify when a child has progressed in a task or if a child is having difficulty progressing through a task. We make data based decisions to guide our programming.


The technological dimension of ABA therapy emphasizes the precise and detailed description of all treatments used during therapy. BCBAs document their strategies, techniques, and processes in a clear and concise manner. This level of detail allows RBTs to replicate successful strategies, ensures consistency across sessions, and enables effective collaboration among the caregiver team.

Conceptually Systematic

The conceptually systematic dimension of ABA therapy emphasizes the use of established principles and proven theories of behavior analysis. BCBAs base their treatment plans on evidence-based practices and research-supported strategies. By relying on established principles, RBTs can ensure that their techniques are effective and high-quality.


The effective dimension of ABA therapy focuses on achieving meaningful change. BCBAs work with families and your child’s other providers and caregivers to set goals that have a positive impact on the child’s quality of life. Whether it is improving communication skills, fostering independence, or promoting social inclusion, ABA therapy aims to make a significant difference in the child’s overall development and well-being.


The generality dimension of ABA therapy emphasizes the generalization and maintenance of learned skills across various settings, people, and situations. RBTs strive to teach skills that can be applied in different environments, such as home, school, and the community.

ABA at Wellspring Learning Centers

The principles and 7 dimensions of ABA therapy aim to support the unique needs of preschool-aged children with autism and related disorders. At Wellspring Learning Centers, we are dedicated to providing ABA therapy services, including comprehensive ABA and focused ABA, that encompasses these dimensions through highly professional and compassionate care. Our next-level ABA centers provide engaging and nurturing environment for children to grow and succeed in their learning. Contact us today to learn more about how you can receive an elevated ABA experience.

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