What is ABA Therapy?

With ABA therapy, therapists work one-on-one with a child to break a meaningful skill into small sequences, help the child learn each sequence and then combine them into the skill.

With ABA therapy, therapists work one-on-one with a child to break a meaningful skill into small sequences, help the child learn each sequence and then combine them into the skill.

What is Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) Therapy?

ABA is an evidence-based approach that assesses behaviours and works to both increase positive learning and decrease those behaviours which may be socially isolating, physically harmful or which present a significant speedbump to learning.

Primarily, it’s about helping an individual to learn or re-learn how to achieve, to live life fully, and to reach their potential.

ABA is used in a wide range of settings, such as medical, educational, mental health, rehabilitation, and health and exercise. It is recognised as one way for people on the autism spectrum to “learn how to learn”.

  • ABA is the process of systemically applying interventions based on the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviours to a meaningful degree (Baer, Wolf & Risley, 1968/1987; Sulzer-Azaroff & Mayer, 1991). Specific ‘socially significant behaviours’ include academics, communication, social skills and adaptive living skills.
  • Beginning with Ivar Lovaas’ 1987 landmark study, nearly 30 years of clinical research supports ABA therapy’s effectiveness in helping children with ASD become as functional as possible. The Australian Government’s ‘Guidelines for Good Practice’ for children with ASD acknowledges ABA as the only early intervention therapy that is based on established research evidence.

How does ABA therapy work for children?

ABA addresses the functional relationship between a child’s behaviour and their environment, which includes their home, others’ homes, preschool, school or wider community. In conjunction with family and educators, trained ABA therapists assess these relationships and then systematically apply strategies and interventions based on the principles of learning theory.

The aim is to improve the child’s socially significant behaviours to a degree that is uniquely meaningful to them. These observable behaviours are associated with the child’s communication, academic, social and adaptive living skills. The combination of these skills makes each program as individual as the child for whom it is designed.

What does ABA look like at L4Life?

Our aim is to help children learn. To do this, we provide positive reinforcements we know increase the likelihood that a target behaviour will occur again.

  • Behavioural therapists break target behaviours down into small, manageable steps that they teach the child to apply together as a meaningful, independent skill. It involves repetition, positive reinforcement, success – and time.
  • Therapists evaluate the child’s progress via systematic observation and data collection and supervisors modify the child’s program according.
  • Data is reviewed daily, fortnightly and monthly in partnership with the family and teacher, building their skills and understanding.
  • In line with rigorous scientific resources, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the US National Research Council, L4Life is committed to delivering early intervention ABA programs one-on-one to a child for a minimum of 25 hours/week to as much as 40 hours/week, over an average of two years, to help ensure the child achieves their potential. However, the actual therapy intensity that L4Life delivers to any one child flexibly depends upon the child’s individual clinical recommendations and often varies by age.
  • At L4Life, therapists deliver a child’s ABA program in collaboration with the family. Parents participate in systematic reviews of their child’s program and their feedback and needs are included in program modifications. Additionally, L4Life trains parents in ABA-based strategies, enabling them to reinforce their child’s program in their therapists’ absence, help their child generalise skills into the broader world, and interact as effectively and positively as possible with their child beyond their ABA program’s end.

Learn more about our ABA-based therapy services and how we can help.

More information

  • Although research shows ABA is most effective when applied as an early intervention autism therapy—that is, during a child’s preschool years—it can also improve the skills of individuals with ASD of all ages.
  • The use of ABA is not unique to individuals with ASD. Behavioural consultants use it to improve people’s performance across a range of fields, such as business and athletics.


‘I think it’s important to tell people that even if progress is slow, the results from ABA are still 100% worth the investment. Toilet training, communication, tolerance, the ability to follow instructions … none of this would have happened without ABA, I’m certain of that. ABA has been her best chance at reaching her potential and we’re so fortunate that Learning for Life have come into our lives and been there for us every step of the way.’ 

—Naomi, mother of Lucy