ABA is an autism treatment that helps improve social behaviors. The 7 dimensions of ABA are the core principles that ensure effectiveness in each treatment plan.

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is an approach to understanding and improving someone’s long-term behavior. The seven dimensions of ABA are evidence-based tools to help teach appropriate social behaviors during autism treatment.

These seven dimensions were outlined in a 1968 article titled “Some Current Dimensions of Applied Behaviour Analysis”. While the article is older, it is still relevant for high quality ABA programs.

The dimensions include the following:

  1. applied
  2. behavioral
  3. analytic
  4. technological
  5. conceptually systematic
  6. effective
  7. adept to generality

This dimension involves using socially significant techniques to improve the learner’s life. The behaviors vary based on the learner, so goals and interventions must apply specifically to that person.

In this dimension, it’s necessary to set goals that target the following skills and life areas:

  • adaptive
  • academic and educational
  • social
  • communication
  • family dynamics
  • recreational
  • focus

Each goal should improve the learner’s daily life and positively impact the people around them. The learner should use their skills for appropriate behaviors and reactions.

It’s essential to focus on what’s important to the individual and will help them function in society rather than using the same set of theories for every learner.

The behaviors addressed in a treatment plan must be measurable and observable. It should involve things that translate into data to show the learner’s progress. The data also helps determine further intervention plans to help the learner.

Measurable behaviors are things the learner does or should do, not what they think or feel. They’re observable and can be adapted or modified. Some measurable behaviors include things like:

  • talking
  • crying
  • hitting
  • running
  • jumping
  • playing appropriately
  • responding to social cues

Every intervention used in the seven dimensions of ABA stems from scientific research with analyzable results. Experts used evidence-based research, data, and objective information to determine goals and targeted behaviors.

It allows for making educated choices about implementing specific interventions and setting goals.

When professionals analyze the data from ABA patients, they look for connections between environmental and behavioral changes. When implementing new techniques, professionals document what happens to see if it helps decrease challenging behavior.

Intervention plans include procedures detailed in technological terms because they are evidence-based and replicated. The procedures will be clear and concise so interventionists can understand and implement the plan.

It’s technological when it can only be interpreted one way. This way, multiple interventionists can carry out the plan without switching things up on the learner.

This dimension highlights that all interventionists use research-based techniques. They’ll use the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (JABA) as a primary source for their teaching methods. It indicates that all interventions relate to the core principles of JABA.

Some of the methods used in ABA include the following:

  • Positive reinforcement: strengthens behavior
  • Punishment: decreases behavior
  • Prompting: teaches through helping a child give the correct response after a request so they can learn the connection between the response and request
  • Modeling: modeling can occur in real life or on a video
  • Extinction: withholding reinforcement for something you used to reinforce so the learner can go without a reward in other settings

Intervention techniques should be effective, meaning they improve behavior in a functional method. If the challenging behavior does not reduce, the intervention is ineffective.

The interventionist or board certified behavior analysts (BCBAs) reevaluate their technique to find an effective method for the learner. Analytic data can help determine when an intervention is effective or ineffective.

Effectiveness often depends on its importance to the learner and those in their life. An interventionist must learn what’s most important to the learner, often based on their culture and community. The importance can also depend on their age and what’s socially significant for their age group.

When a behavior is sustainable over time, it’s considered adept to generality. It means the learner can implement the behavior in various environments and settings, allowing them to behave appropriately in different situations.

Generality ensures the targeted behaviors last long-term, well after the intervention ends.

The learner should be able to reduce challenging behaviors outside of a clinical setting, helping them at home, school, work, or anywhere else.

Generality also ensures the learner can use the methods on different behaviors that weren’t directly targeted during the intervention.

Those in ABA treatment learn to generalize differently. Two techniques commonly implemented are using different stimuli to teach skills and teaching them in various settings.

The seven dimensions of ABA involve improving the learner’s life and helping them improve skills that can help them in their natural environment. It should also help them use appropriate behavior in future environments.

Following the dimensions helps preserve the integrity of a treatment plan by ensuring all cases can be replicated, observed, and measurable. There won’t be any outside sources affecting the outcome because all steps follow the same dimensions.

Understanding the seven dimensions of ABA can help you assist someone with their goals and help them make significant changes. You can ask the involved professionals how each dimension is applied to the treatment plan so you can incorporate them daily.