History Of ABA Therapy: Who Invented ABA Therapy?

Learn about the history of Applied Behavior Analysis, who invented it, and how it came to be.

judah schiller
Judah Schiller
June 27, 2023
Published On
June 27, 2023

History Of ABA Therapy

history of aba therapy

If you are the parent of a child with autism, chances are you have heard of ABA therapy.

But what is the history of ABA therapy and how did it come to be? In this blog post, we will take a look at the history of ABA therapy and how it has evolved over the years.

We will also discuss some of the current research that is being done on ABA therapy and its effectiveness. So if you want to learn more about ABA therapy, read on!

ABA therapy is a type of behavior therapy that was first developed in the 1960s

ABA therapy, or Applied Behavior Analysis, is a form of behavior therapy that was first developed in the 1960s by O. Ivar Lovaas and has since become increasingly popular as a teaching method for individuals with autism. ABA is based on the idea that behavior can be analyzed, learned and changed through reinforcement.

who invented aba therapy

The therapist works with the individual to identify problem behaviors and develop goals that are designed to help them understand why they exhibit certain behaviors and how they can replace those behaviors with more positive responses.

ABA therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for a variety of behavioral conditions including those related to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, phobias and other disruptive behaviors.

ABA therapy ultimately promotes learning and meaningful change by developing interventions specifically tailored to the individual's unique needs.

The goal of ABA therapy is to change maladaptive behaviors and teach new, more adaptive behaviors

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is a process grounded in the principles of behavior and motivation to increase positive behaviors while decreasing negative ones. It can be used to address a wide range of issues and behaviors, from social skills development to teaching life skills such as grocery shopping or preparing meals.

ABA works on reinforcing new, more adaptive behaviors through the repetition of desirable target behaviors with the aim of making these reliably part of a person’s routine.

Different techniques are used to change maladaptive behaviors based on the desired outcome, such as Positive Reinforcement which gives rewards for desired behavior or Extinction meant to weaken a response by removing reinforcement.

ABA therapies are also tailored for each individual so that understanding and proficiency can be identified objectively and accurately from consistent data collection. With patience, effort and consistency this type of therapy can help develop new skills, modify existing maladaptive behavior, improve communication and promote academic success.

Who invented ABA therapy?

Dr. Ole Ivar Lovaas

The original inventor of ABA therapy is widely credited to be O. Ivar Lovaas, a renowned clinical psychologist who first began using the principles of behaviorism to treat people with autism in the 1950s and 60s.

He was also one of the first psychologists to recognize that autistic children could learn and make gains through systematic instruction.

He developed an early form of ABA therapy that involved teaching language and other skills through intensive 1-on-1 instruction, as well as using reinforcement techniques such as token economy systems to reward desired behaviors.

Through his pioneering research, Lovaas helped bring this treatment method into mainstream use in psychology, education and social services settings around the world.

Timeline of ABA therapy's history

• 1950s – O.I. Lovaas begins research and practice of ABA therapy

• 1967 – Lovaas first reports success treating autism with ABA in a publication

• 1970s – the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT) is founded to advocate use of ABA therapy

• 1987 – The Analysis and Education of Severe Behavior Disorders (AESBD) is published, outlining the principles and applications of applied behavior analysis in detail

• 1990s – ABA services become more widely available through schools and early intervention programs

• 2000s – Increased awareness leads to greater inclusion for people with autism spectrum disorders in society

• 2010s – Growing clinical evidence backs up effectiveness of ABA therapy as an evidence-based treatment for autism and other disorders

• 2020s – ABA therapy continues to be a widely used method of behavioral modification.

ABA therapy is now recognized as the most common and effective treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and its related behaviors. The use of this form of behavior analysis has helped individuals with ASD learn new skills, modify existing maladaptive behaviors, improve communication, and promote academic success.

It has also been used to address a variety of other issues in different settings such as mental health clinics, schools, private homes, hospitals, research institutions and correctional facilities.

With the help of ABA therapy, many individuals have achieved great successes in their lives that they would not have otherwise been able to achieve.


In conclusion, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is a widely used and effective form of behavior modification that has helped individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other related issues learn new skills, modify existing behaviors, improve communication, and promote academic success.

It has been proven to be an evidence-based treatment that can lead to positive outcomes for many people who use it. With the help of ABA therapists and consistent practice, individuals can continue making progress in their lives despite any challenges they may face.

As the popularity of this treatment continues to grow, more research is being done on its efficacy as well as the long-term impact it can have on those who use it.


  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21153872/
  2. https://www.discover-hope.com/how-did-applied-behavior-analysis-aba-start/
  3. https://www.inbloomautism.com/post/the-history-of-applied-behavior-analysis
  4. https://blogs.uoregon.edu/autismhistoryproject/topics/applied-behavior-analysis/
  5. https://psychcentral.com/pro/child-therapist/2019/02/brief-history-of-applied-behavior-analysis