Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA,  is a field of science that focuses especially on ways to build effective, efficient, and functional behaviors. By understanding the relationship between an individual's behavior and the environment in which such behavior occurs, behavior analysts can help create an environment that will promote the development of desired skills while making less safe or inappropriate behaviors unnecessary (for example, by teaching the individual safer and more effective ways to get their needs met). Creating this type of environment can be accomplished through one-on-one teaching, parent-education and training, and/or the training of teachers and staff that manage the environment in which the individual spends time. In a seminal paper on ABA written in 1968, Baer, Wolf, and Risley defined applied behavior analysis as follows:

Applied Behavior Analysis is the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree, and to demonstrate that the interventions employed are responsible for the improvement in behavior.
— Baer, Wolf, and Risley: Some Current Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis, published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (1968)