What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

The term “autism” was first coined in the 1960’s by Leo Kanner. Almost simultaneously, Hans Asperger uncovered a very similar disorder that would become known as Asperger’s Syndrome. Recently, these terms have been collapsed and are now known as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), which refers to a group of disorders affecting language, social relatedness, and behavior. ASD is best characterized as a neurological disorder with a genetic component. Science is still discovering the relationship between the environment and the genetics of ASD and why the gene is expressed in some individuals. ASD can affect many areas of a person’s life (delayed language, social skills and aberrant behavior), or can effect just social understanding. The degree and number of symptoms varies in each individual with ASD, who as a group still share some common characteristics of ASD. We do not know everything about why or how autism occurs, but we have discovered many things about how to very effectively treat this group of disorders. Dramatic improvement is possible with good intervention. All individuals are able to learn new skills, even if it takes a little longer with some. The type and intensity of services will vary according to each individual’s condition, age, goals and other factors which combine to inform an individualized plan for treatment.

What is Applied Behavior Analysis?

Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, is a subfield of psychology. Behavior Analysis is characterized by a focus on objective description and measurement of behavior. In addition to using ABA for intervention with autism, ABA is used in many other areas including behavioral health, education, business, animal training and sports performance. Over the past several decades ABA has become recognized as the gold standard in treatment for people with autism, based on the volume of scientific studies that have compared techniques and approaches. Within ABA, there are a number of techniques and methods which can be combined to achieve ambitious outcomes.

 As Behavior Analysts, our philosophy is to improve the quality of life for individuals by addressing socially relevant problems and applying careful, data driven, empirically-based treatment methods to improve whatever situations appropriately lend themselves to our area of expertise. In this context, treatment for children diagnosed along the autism spectrum will emphasize the use of applied behavior analysis principles to teach behaviors necessary to function across settings (i.e., home, community and school). Each child will be individually assessed and have a unique program developed to specifically address their strengths and weaknesses. All of our practices are in line, with and informed by, the guidelines set forth as best practice standards set by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board.

(For further information please see: http://www.bacb.com/index.php?page=100772)

ABA: The "Gold Standard" Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

  Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a subfield of psychology and has become the gold standard of treatment for autism spectrum disorders.  ABA based approaches to autism intervention are effective and have shown to be the most scientifically validated treatment for ASD. The empirical evidence is substantial.


Several national agencies endorse ABA based interventions for ASD treatment. Perhaps the most noteworthy is an endorsement from the United States Surgeon General, David Satcher, MD, PhD, who says in the report, Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General, “Thirty years of research demonstrated the efficacy of applied behavioral methods in reducing inappropriate behavior and in increasing communication, learning, and appropriate social behavior.”


The following organizations also endorse ABA as a scientifically proven approach for treating children with autism and related disorders:

  • American Academy of Neurology

  • American Academy of Family Pediatrics

  • American Academy of Pediatrics

  • American Academy of Occupational Therapy Association

  • American Psychological Association

  • American Speech-Language Hearing Association

  • Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics

  • Autism Society of America

  • National Institute of Child Health & Human Development

  • National Institute of Mental Health

  • National Autism Center

ABA has been shown to be effective across all individuals with ASD regardless of the severity of the symptoms or length of time with diagnosis. Forward Behavioral & Mental Health is an ABA based treatment facility, however we employ a broad and flexible approach on how to implement teaching so that our methods include lots of play and natural learning settings for children. This keeps it more fun and more generalizable. We welcome the opportunity to show you our center!