What is ABA Therapy?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is a scientific approach to understanding and modifying human behavior. It is based on the principles of operant conditioning, which involves reinforcing desirable behaviors and discouraging undesirable ones. ABA therapy is widely used to treat individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities.

ABA therapy focuses on breaking down complex skills into smaller, manageable steps and teaching them systematically through positive reinforcement. The goal is to increase socially significant behaviors and decrease problematic behaviors that may interfere with learning and daily functioning.

What is ABA Therapy?

ABA therapy is a research-based approach that focuses on applying principles of learning and behavior to bring about measurable and meaningful change in children with autism and related disorders. Through the use of positive reinforcement and breaking down complex skills into smaller, manageable tasks, ABA creates a supportive environment where children can learn, grow, and thrive.

Today’s ABA Therapy

According to Dr. Greg Hanley, Today’s ABA is about continually learning about the predilections of the autistic person being served so that preferred learning contexts can be developed en route to developing skills that can be appreciated by the autistic person as well as others. We are following this path at Wellspring Learning Centers, where our BCBAs focus on listening, creating joy, and empowering our clients. We are always looking for ways to learn from our clients as we teach.

The Principles of ABA Therapy

ABA therapy is grounded in several fundamental principles:

  • Reinforcement: Positive reinforcement is used to increase the likelihood of desired behaviors occurring again. This can be in the form of verbal praise, rewards, or access to preferred activities.

  • Antecedent Interventions: Therapists set up the environment or provide prompts to increase the chances of the desired behavior occurring.

  • Generalization: Skills learned in one setting are systematically applied to other settings and situations to promote generalization.

  • Data Collection: Therapists collect and analyze data to monitor progress, make informed decisions, and adjust the treatment plan as needed.

  • Skill Acquisition: Complex skills are broken down into smaller, teachable steps, and each step is mastered before moving on to the next.

How Does ABA Therapy Work?

At the core of ABA therapy lies a comprehensive understanding of the unique needs and abilities of each child. Through careful evaluation and analysis, Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) assess each child’s skill level and challenges in areas such as communication, play, self-help, behavior, and social interaction. From there, they develop an individualized treatment plan that uses evidence-based techniques to help the child achieve their defined goals.

Depending on your child’s needs, ABA programs can be full-time or part-time. Full-time programs typically take place 6-8 hours each weekday and part-time programs take place 2-5 hours. Your BCBA will recommend the program that will have the greatest impact.

What to Expect During ABA Therapy Sessions

ABA therapy sessions are typically conducted one-on-one with a trained therapist. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Initial Assessment: The therapist will conduct an initial assessment to identify the individual’s strengths, challenges, and specific areas of need.

  • Treatment Plan Development: Based on the assessment, the therapist will develop a customized treatment plan with specific goals and objectives.

  • Skill Instruction: The therapist will use various ABA techniques, such as DTT or PRT, to teach new skills in a systematic and structured manner. At Wellspring Learning Centers, we focus primarily on Natural Environment Training (“NET”), where learning is more play-based and child-led.

  • Data Collection: Throughout the session, the therapist will collect data on the individual’s performance and progress.

  • Generalization: The therapist will work on generalizing the learned skills to different settings and situations.

  • Parent/Caregiver Involvement: Parents and caregivers may be involved in the therapy sessions and trained to implement ABA strategies at home for consistent reinforcement.

The Benefits of ABA Therapy

ABA therapy offers numerous benefits for individuals with autism and their families:


  • Improved Communication and Social Skills: ABA therapy can help individuals with autism develop essential communication and social skills, enabling them to better interact with others and participate in daily activities.

  • Reduction in Challenging Behaviors: By teaching alternative, appropriate behaviors and reinforcing positive behaviors, ABA therapy can effectively reduce challenging behaviors like tantrums, aggression, and self-injury.

  • Increased Independence: ABA therapy focuses on teaching adaptive living skills, such as dressing, grooming, and following routines, which can promote greater independence and self-sufficiency.

  • Academic and Cognitive Development: ABA techniques can be used to teach academic skills like reading, writing, and math, as well as cognitive skills like problem-solving and decision-making.

  • Improved Quality of Life: By addressing the specific needs and challenges of individuals with autism, ABA therapy can enhance their overall quality of life and enable them to reach their full potential.

  • Parent/Caregiver Support: ABA therapy often involves training and support for parents and caregivers, empowering them to effectively implement strategies at home and promote consistent skill development.

Our ABA Programs and Services

Wellspring Learning Centers provides elevated ABA services for preschool-aged children. From comprehensive ABA to toilet training, we help in the learning process of a variety of skills. By utilizing evidence-based techniques, incorporating positive reinforcement, and designing personalized treatment plans, we strive to create a nurturing environment that fosters your child's growth and development.

Our Testimonials

Praise for Our People and Programs

At Wellspring Learning Centers, we value feedback from our families and other professionals in the field. Through their testimonials and stories, we gain insights into the positive changes our ABA therapy programs bring to the lives of children and families affected by autism and related disorders. Hear first-hand how our ABA programs can help make a difference in your child’s life.
Jessica is organized and friendly and is an amazing RBT and Office Administrator. I love how she cares for her learners by always staying calm during problem behavior, treating them with respect, and providing positive options.

Nancy G.

I’m so blessed and happy I was able to come across WellSpring Learning Center. Their staff are very welcoming and caring. I can see the progress and changes in my child since being at Wellspring.


The Wellspring leadership team is super dedicated to creating the best ABA learning experience in Nashville. They invest in their people, their centers, and their parents to create fun, trust, and progress.

Cara E.

Elysia is a remarkable individual with the rare combination of dedication, knowledge, and interpersonal skills that allow her to flourish with the families and clients she works with.

Christine J.

Wendy creates an effective learning environment in the center that not only helps the children but that they really enjoy. She is extremely passionate about assent-based approaches to ABA learning and the importance of activity scheduling, circle time, and structured independent workstations.

Taylor A.

Gerardo is a phenomenal clinician and excellent BCBA. He demonstrates true enjoyment every day in his practice of ABA and takes advantage of every learning opportunity to teach new skills or shape the clinical repertoire of his team. He is an excellent leader, mentor and collaborator and never misses a chance to lead his team to clinical excellence.

Viviana G.

We recently visited Wellspring and met with both Eric and Gerardo. They were both welcoming and enthusiastic to meet with us. This new clinic was absolutely stunning and very well thought out for both function and therapeutic success. Each room serves a purpose and focuses on specific goals a learner might have in their programming. Their enrollment process and parent support is excellent. We are excited to be able to use Wellspring for therapeutic matching for our clients!

Rachael F.

Our Next-Level ABA Centers

Wellspring Learning Centers is dedicated to redefining the ABA experience by creating next-level ABA centers in Tennessee. Our centers are designed to provide an immersive environment, complete with premium furniture, engaging playscapes, and age-appropriate toys. Our interactive setting gives children the opportunity to learn and have fun simultaneously. See firsthand how we are changing the ABA standard.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Discover answers to frequently asked questions about ABA therapy.

Yes, ABA therapy is often covered by insurance, but the amount depends on the specifics of your plan. We are in-network providers for a number of major insurance providers. Contact us to check your coverage and start the reimbursement process.

Yes, ABA therapy has been shown to have significant long-term benefits for children with autism and related disorders. It is also the gold standard treatment for autism and is endorsed by many providers as well as national pediatric organizations.

ABA therapy utilizes a range of strategies and techniques, including positive reinforcement, natural environment training, shaping, discrete trial training, and prompting. Techniques are catered to a child’s level, interests, and needs.

No, ABA therapy is not harmful. It is a research-backed intervention that has been proven to be safe and effective for children with autism and related disorders. The intentions of ABA therapy are to foster positive behavior, communication, and independence skills. ABA staff are highly professional, compassionate, and experienced professionals. Our staff and clinical methodology are aligned with the most current ethical practices, we do not endorse exclusionary or restraining. Instead we rely on teaching functional communication and alternative positive behaviors.

The duration of an ABA program depends on a number of factors, including the severity and type of disorder. When enrolled in a program, BCBAs will develop individualized treatment plans and evaluate progress on a regular basis to make adjustments when necessary. For best results, ABA therapy must be consistent and incorporated at home.

ABA therapy is employed to support individuals with various neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Down syndrome, intellectual disabilities, and developmental delays. It aims to enhance attention, communication, social skills, and adaptive behaviors while reducing maladaptive behaviors.

Individuals of all ages who exhibit deficits in behavior, communication, social skills, or adaptive functioning may qualify for ABA therapy. Diagnosis of a neurodevelopmental disorder, such as ASD, ADHD, Down syndrome, or intellectual disabilities, is often a prerequisite for accessing ABA services. Additionally, individuals who demonstrate significant challenges in daily functioning and would benefit from structured intervention to improve their quality of life may also qualify for ABA therapy.

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Complete our online form to begin your child’s enrollment in one of our ABA programs and a clinical leader will get in touch soon to schedule a consultation.