We offer applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy for young children with autism to help children and families increase behaviors that are helpful and decrease behaviors that are harmful or negatively impact learning.

Family Photos

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the application of behavioral laws to change socially significant behavior to a meaningful degree. ABA is based on the science of learning and behavior. ABA helps us to understand:

  • how behavior works,
  • how behavior is impacted by the environment, and
  • how learning takes place.


The principles of ABA form the basis for many behavioral treatments including discrete trial learning, incidental teaching (or natural environment training), verbal behavior, pivotal response training, and the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), what our intervention is based on at YMC. All of these techniques focus on antecedents (what happens before a behavior occurs), the behavior emitted, and the consequences (what happens after the behavior).

  • Receptive communication – the ability to understand information, such as the ability to follow directions
  • Expressive communication – the use of words and gestures to convey meaning to others
  • Social skills – skills needed to communicate and interact with others
  • Imitation – mimicking another person’s behavior with actions and words
  • Cognition – foundational skills needed to learn such as matching and sorting, letter and number recognition, and sequencing
  • Play – the ability to functionally play both independently and with others
  • Fine motor – coordination of small muscles, such as the muscles used in writing
  • Gross motor – coordination of large muscles, such as the muscles used in walking
  • Personal independence – personal skills needed to lead an independent life, such as eating, dressing, grooming, and chores

The National Research Council, an organization that advises the U.S. Congress on policy, made a set of recommendations about best practices for early intervention with young children with autism. The criteria are as follows:

  • Intervention should begin as soon as possible.
  • The intervention program should be individualized for each child, taking into account each child’s unique characteristics, strengths, and challenges.
  • The intervention program should be designed and overseen by a trained, professional, interdisciplinary team.
  • A curriculum that focuses on the specific areas of challenges in ASD should be used.
  • The program should provide for ongoing data collection on the progress the child is making in each skill area, and adjustments to the program should be made when progress is not evident.
  • The child should be actively engaged in the intervention activities and should receive at least 25 hours of structured intervention each week.
  • Parents should be closely involved in the intervention, as well as in setting goals and priorities, and should be taught how to implement the intervention strategies as home.

For behavior therapy, YMC currently accepts BCBS, Aetna, and United.