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Applied Behaviour Analysis has been defined as “the science in which procedures derived from the principles of behaviour are systematically applied to improve socially significant behaviour to a meaningful degree and to demonstrate empirically the procedures employed were responsible for that improvement” (Cooper, Heron & Heward, 1987, p. 14)

Applied Behavioural Analysis or ABA is a proven, evidence-based approach to changing behaviour and improving the lives of people with addictions, autism, communications disorders, brain injury, development disabilities, mental health issues, age-related dementia, and challenging behaviours. St. Lawrence College has trained students to work in the highly specialized ABA field for more than 40 years. We’re home to the country’s largest single-institution cluster of ABA programs, creating a synergy and opportunities for students unlike anywhere else:

  • The Behavioural Science Technology program teaches students to develop and implement behavioural interventions, so they can teach new skills to clients and reduce challenging behaviours.
  • Students in the Autism and Behavioural Science program use ABA to develop new skills in their clients, including language, social and play skills, self-help skills, academics, motor skills, life skills and appropriate behaviour.
  • SLC’s Bachelor of Applied Arts in Behavioural Psychology is based on the BST programs long history of success and is the first undergraduate degree of its kind in Canada.  It is a four year program that offers students training and research in behavioural psychology and 1,100 hours of field placement experience. The program provides students a traditional university degree plus the 'hands-on' focus of a college education.  
  • The Communicative Disorder Assistant program was re-launched in 2013 to prepare students to support speech language pathologists and audiologists in schools, day cares, residential institutions, hospitals, nursing homes and clinics.

In what fields is ABA used ?

  • Addictions
  • Autism
  • Brain Injury
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Education
  • Forensics
  • Mental Health
  • Geriatrics
  • Financial Literacy
  • Product innovation
  • Organizational Behaviour
  • Etc.

How & why does ABA help the treatment process?

  • ABA is a proven evidenced-based approach to changing behaviour.  
  • ABA is based on the principles of learning and has been proven successful across a variety of client populations, presenting a variety of issues and problems.
  • The focus of ABA is to change behaviour, not the person.
  • ABA uses functional behavioural assessments and other data collections procedures to ensure that a careful contextual evaluation is conducted prior to any treatment plan being developed.  This results in the most effective interventions being implemented.
  • Adult clients/patients with acquired brain injuries, addictions, developmental disabilities, etc. face daily challenges during the rehabilitation process and almost every challenge is the direct result of behavioural excesses (behaviours that occur too frequently) ; behavioural deficits (behaviours that do not occur often enough or at all); or both.
  • ABA is the most effective and evidenced based way to change behaviour by reducing behavioural excesses and increasing behavioural deficits in meaningful ways; to help improve the lives of clients/patients so that they can meet their treatment goals.
  • Many clients display interfering behaviours that lengthen or impede the treatment process and which act as barriers to community integration and/or re-intergration. ABA uses specific evidenced based strategies to reduce interfering behaviours and to teach or increase replacement behaviours that meet the same functional properties as the interfering behaviours once did.

How can ABA research and practices help solve societal problems?

Research shows that human beings do not always follow-through on their intentions. Frequently, we experience an intention-action gap due to psychological and external factors.  ABA provides policy makers, businesses, practitioners and individuals with insights how to affect behavioural change, both at the individual level and at larger scale group or community levels. 

Investments in ABA programs have increased tenfold in the last decade, but there is no published research evaluating whether or not Ontario publicly-funded programs are cost-effectively meeting community needs.  In addition, the demand for ABA services outweighs supply.   A lack of quality intervention services right across the country means families are waiting for care, and community service providers and teachers are not receiving the support they need to effectively develop and implement client care plans in their offices and classrooms.