What Is Reinforcement and Why Is It Important in ABA?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the only treatment that has been shown in research for many years to be the most effective therapeutic intervention to help children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Applied Behavior Analysis uses the science of learning and positive reinforcement to bring about meaningful changes in behavior.

So what exactly is “reinforcement”?

In order to understand reinforcement, first we have to look the “Law of Effect” in Behavioral Psychology. The Law of Effect means basically that if an action or event is followed by satisfaction for the individual or animal, that action or event becomes more closely tied to the individual (or animal) and more likely to reoccur. Also, if an action or event is followed by discomfort for the individual or animal, that action or event is less likely to reoccur.

So, in Applied Behavior Analysis, reinforcement is what happens in the environment to make desired behaviors in the autistic child pleasant and more likely to happen again. These environmental stimuli are the basis of learning in what’s called Operant Conditioning in psychology.

Why is reinforcement important in ABA?

Reinforcement in the very basis of Applied Behavior Analysis. By analyzing each individual child’s needs and tailoring a program specific for that child, we can use these principles of psychology to help the child learn new and desirable behaviors to better cope with the world we live in.

Following the tenets of psychology such as Operant Conditioning, the Law of Effect, and reinforcement, we make learning new things pleasant and fun for the child. These same theories also make it possible to extinguish undesirable behaviors. This is why ABA works and has been shown to work in research. It’s actually pretty simple: show the child what behaviors you want, make it a pleasant experience (or “reinforce” the behavior,) and the child will learn the behavior.

ABA can be life changing for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families. ABA can improve your child’s toileting behaviors, eating behaviors, speech, and sleeping routines. If you are trying to decide how to handle a child with ASD or what type of therapy is most appropriate for your child, please contact us today.

Let us help you. We offer Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and our services are outlined here. We encourage you to call us directly, toll-free, at (844) 263-1613 or email us at info@totalspectrumcare.com. We are based in Elmhurst, Illinois.