Behaviour analysis focuses on the principles that explain how learning takes place. Positive reinforcement is one such principle. When behaviour is followed by some sort of reward, the behaviour is more likely to be repeated. Through decades of research, the field of behaviour analysis has developed many techniques for increasing useful behaviours and reducing those that may cause harm or interfere with learning.
Applied behaviour analysis (ABA) is the use of these techniques and principles to bring about meaningful and positive change in behaviour. As mentioned, behaviour analysts began working with young children with autism and related disorders in the 1960s. Early techniques often involved adults directing most of the instruction. Some allowed the child to take the lead. Since that time, a wide variety of ABA techniques have been developed for building useful skills in learners with autism – from toddlers through adulthood.