Although an increasingly diagnosed developmental disorder among children, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has no known cure. However, there is treatment, and the consensus among experts, parents, and teachers is that that the most effective treatment is Applied Behavior Analysis.
One of the first definitions of Applied Behavior Analysis remains the best. According to a 1968 paper written by Baer, Wolf, & Risley, “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.” As with just about anything relating to autism, the specific techniques are constantly evolving.
Fortunately, hundreds of helpful books have been written on the topic. The following 30 books are written by behavior analysts, teachers, and parents, and represent the best books on Applied Behavioral Analysis based on such factors as Amazon sales and ratings, Barnes and Noble sales and ratings, awards and honors, and use as a textbook.
101 Games and Activities for Children with Autism, Asperger’s and Sensory Processing Disorders (McGraw-Hill, 2009)
While most books for care givers of autistic children focus on improving motor, language, or social skills, this book by Tara Delaney offers myriad ideas for something just as important: play. The book is full of tips and suggestions for interactive games that are easy to learn and perfect for either indoor or outdoor playtime. Through these games, children with autism can learn stay focused, make eye contact, improve important skills, and practice interacting with others.
101 Ways to Do ABA!: Practical and Amusing Positive Behavioral Tips for Implementing Applied Behavior Analysis Strategies in Your Home, Classroom, and in Your Community (CreateSpace Publishing, 2012)
“101 Ways to Do ABA!” is a must-have resource consisting of applied behavior analysis techniques that have been proven effective against challenging behaviors. Topics include dealing with tantrums, attending in a classroom, eating in restaurants, and much more.
The ABA Visual Language: Applied Behavior Analysis (CreateSpace Publishing, 2017)
Makoto Shibutani BCBA
Students, professionals, and parents alike will find “The ABA Visual Language” helpful. This highly useable guide by Makato Shibutani provides readers detailed explanations, complete with illustrations and real-world examples, of various terms and topics common to a discussion about applied behavior analysis.
Applied Behavior Analysis (Pearson, 2nd Ed. 2007*)
John O. Cooper, Timothy E. Heron, and William L. Heward
This commonly used textbook and Amazon bestseller provides its (usually) student readers with detailed descriptions and summaries of the must-know aspects of applied behavior analysis. It’s most appropriate as a foundational text for those researching the basics of ABA, applications, or behavioral research methods.
*The text has recently received an update with a third edition, released in April 2018.
Applied Behavior Analysis: Comprehensive ABA Treatment for Cognitive Functioning and Social Development (Kindle, 2017)
This book by J.P. Pearson, currently available as an ebook, offers basic information for the reader at the beginning stages of researching applied behavior analysis. Its simple approach makes it a valuable resource for those hoping to get an idea of what ABA is, what it looks like, and what it can do.
Applied Behavior Analysis: Fifty Case Studies in Home, School, and Community Settings (Springer, 2016)
Kimberly Maich, Darren Levine, and Carmen Hall
What better way to learn about applied behavior analysis than real-world examples and case studies? That’s exactly what this text by Kimberly Maich and her colleagues provides. The well-organized chapters focus on all of ABA’s core principles, and each example is illustrated with supplementary questions, goal setting, and charts and forms.
Applied Behavior Analysis for Teachers (Pearson, 9th Ed. 2012)
Paul A. Alberto and Anne C. Troutman
Commonly used as a textbook by students studying education, Applied Behavior Analysis for Teachers is full of practical advice that can be used in the classroom. It’s full of real-world, classroom-based examples and models, each of which is written in clear, easy-to-read wording. Some of the topics covered include identifying behaviors, functional assessment, antecedents and consequences, and so much more.
Applied Behavior Analysis in Early Childhood Education: An Introduction to Evidence-based Interventions and Teaching Strategies (Routledge, 2016)
Laura Baylot Casey and Stacy L. Carter
“Applied Behavior Analysis in Early Childhood Education” offers readers a fact-based summary about the use of ABA for developing children who have special needs. It’s full of helpful advice and examples on topics such as communication with parents, common everyday challenges, implementing effective techniques, and coming up with strategies for less common issues.
Behaviorspeak: A Glossary of Terms in Applied Behavior Analysis (Dove and Orca, 2003)
Bobby Newman, Kenneth F. Reeve, Sharon A. Reeve, and Carolyn S. Ryan
Behaviorspeak is a handy reference guide and glossary of common terms used in applied behavior analysis. What makes Behaviorspeak different from other definition-themed books is its humorous style. Though thorough and relevant, this book uses easy-to-understand language and illustrations to provide readers with the necessary knowledge to discuss ABA confidently.
Case Studies in Applied Behavior Analysis for Students and Adults with Disabilities (Charles C. Thomas Pub Ltd., 2016)
Keith Storey and Linda Haymes
This book by Keith Storey and Linda Haymes consists of 21 real-world case studies from which students preparing for ABA certification can study and learn. Each case study is written for the reader to help analyze, making it a valuable study tool. Best of all, the text is easy to understand, yet detailed.
A Complete ABA Curriculum for Individuals on the Autism Spectrum with a Developmental Age of 1-4 Years (Jessica Kingsley Pub, 2014)
Julie Knapp and Caroline Turnbull
An applied behavior analysis curriculum can start young, and this book provides a complete curriculum that any care giver can provide. This unique resource provides one with everything a person may need to teach important skills such as eye contact, appropriate sitting, language skills, and play, to name but a few. Each lesson comes with thorough step-by-step instructions, plus supplementary materials such as color picture cards, printable copies, and checklists.
Crafting Connections: Contemporary Applied Behavior Analysis for Enriching the Social Lives of Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder (DRL Books, 2011)
Mitchell Taubman, Ron Leaf, and John McEachin
Crafting Connections is a useful book for any parent, teacher, or professional behavior analyst who works one-on-one with children on the spectrum. Through easy-to-read descriptions and methodical instruction, the book covers such topics as social learning, social relatedness, social interaction, social awareness, and social communication, among other things.
Effective Programs for Treating Autism Spectrum Disorder: Applied Behavior Analysis Models (Routledge, 2010)
Betty Fry Williams and Randy Lee Williams
Effective Programs for Treating Autism Spectrum Disorder is a comprehensive guide that parents, teachers, and service providers can use to better assist those with autism. This popular and helpful book is organized into three sections: characteristics of and general theories surrounding Autism Spectrum Disorder; a detailed overview of applied behavior analysis; and the various strategies associated with ABA.
Ethics for Behavior Analysts, Third Edition (Routledge, 2016)
Jon Bailey and Mary Burch
This important book, currently in its 3rd edition, is meant to help parents and professionals stay up-to-date on the Behavior Analyst Certification Board Professional and Ethical Compliance Code. To supplement, the authors, Jon Bailey and Mary Burch, include dozens of real-world examples to illustrate various ethical solutions.
First Course in Applied Behavior Analysis (Waveland, 2006)
This textbook-like book is mercifully clear-cut and easy to follow. The comprehensive volume — meant for parents, teachers, students, or professionals — provides readers with tons of realistic examples supported with research and real-world case studies. It will give readers insight into a variety of relevant topics ranging from the language used by ABA professionals to the most effective procedures for changing behavior.
Flexible and Focused: Teaching Executive Function Skills to Individuals with Autism and Attention Disorders (Academic Press, 2017)
Adel C. Najdowski
Flexible and Focused by Adel C. Najdowski is a helpful reference for behavior analysts and other caregivers of those on the autism spectrum. Written as a manual, this book offers useful strategies for approaching lessons on focus, organization, flexibility, and basic skills. It also comes with supplements such as ready-to-use lesson plans, worksheets, and data sheets.
Handbook of Applied Behavior Analysis (Guilford Press, 2013)
Wayne W. Fisher, Cathleen C. Piazza and Henry S. Roane, Eds.
For those just beginning to research applied behavior analysis, this comprehensive book is a must read. Written by two authorities on the subject, Handbook of Applied Behavior Analysis offers its readers detailed descriptions of the various theories, research, and intervention methods of ABA. Topics include common ethical issues, specific applications in education, autism treatment, and safety skills for children, along with much more.
How to Think Like a Behavior Analyst: Understanding the Science That Can Change Your Life (Routledge, 2006)
Jon Bailey and Mary Burch
Anyone working with or interested in applied behavior analysis should have a solid understanding of complex human behavior, and this book provides readers with exactly that. How to Think Like a Behavior Analyst is written in an easy-to-read question-and-answer format, with thorough information on what is behavior analysis and how it differs from psychotherapy and other methods, how behavior analysis is used in various settings, and more.
I Know You’re In There: Winning Our War Against Autism (Hindsight Press, 2014)
Marcia Hinds and Ryan Hinds
I Know You’re in There is the Hinds family’s true account of learning about and dealing with their son Ryan’s autism. The book chronicles the long road by which Ryan was treated with intensive behavioral and educational rehabilitation, and while the Hinds’ story may not work for everyone, it has offered inspiration and hope to thousands of readers since its publication.
Language Processing Drills: For Children with Language Processing Disorders (Independently Published, 2017)
This book by Danni Bloom covers one specific element of applied behavior analysis: language development. Language Processing Drills consists of 180 different drills that parents and caregivers can use to help those on the autism spectrum. The drills, each of which is illustrated by helpful photos, cover topics ranging from plural vs. singular, to adjectives and prepositions.
Make a Wish for Me: A Family’s Recovery from Autism (She Writes Press, 2015)
Make a Wish for Me is the captivating account of LeeAndra Chergey and her autistic son, Ryan. Chergey lovingly describes the ways in which her family was forced to evolve in the wake of her son’s diagnosis, and her realization that being normal is much less important than being happy. This book has won a number of awards including the Indie Reader Discovery Award, the National Indie Excellence Award (finalist), and the Hollywood Book Festival 2016 Honorable Mention, among others.
Parent’s Guide to In-Home ABA Programs: Frequently Asked Questions About Applied Behavior Analysis for Your Child with Autism (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2012)
Elle Olivia Johnson
While many of the books on our list are written for students and professionals, this book by Elle Olivia Johnson is meant specifically for parents. It answers some of the most common questions had by parents of children on the autism spectrum — including “What is Applied Behavior Analysis?” — in a concise and easy-to-understand manner. Other topics covered include how to get the most out of an ABA treatment, what to expect when a therapist comes to the home, and more.
Raising a Child with Autism: A Guide to Applied Behavior Analysis for Parents (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2000)
In Raising a Child with Autism, author Shira Richman walks parents of autistic children through the different ways in which they can implement the principles of applied behavior analysis at home. The book is full of tips and guidelines for everything from increasing a child’s independence to improving sibling interaction.
Science and Human Behavior (Free Press, 1965)
Students of applied behavior analysis will appreciate this book, considered a classic in the field of psychology. Skinner’s theory of human behavior, which is explained in detail in the second section of this work, influenced a generation of psychologists and inspired many of the strategies used in applied behavior analysis. The B.F. Skinner Foundation has made the book available electronically for a suggested donation of $4.99.
A Step-by-Step ABA Curriculum for Young Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders Age 3-10 (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2013)
Parents and caregivers of those with autism spectrum disorder can use this book as a complete curriculum for applied behavior analysis. The book provides everything needed, included sections on social skills, reading, writing, conversation, and math, and is uniquely separated into three sections for each: assessment, curriculum, mastery. There is also a section in which a student’s progress can be tracked via a built-in data collection sheet.
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard (Crown Business, 2010)
Chip Heath and Dan Heath
While not specifically related to the autism spectrum, the bestselling book Switch focuses on the rational and the emotional, and the ways in which they compete for the mind. Those interested in applied behavior analysis will appreciate the book’s detailed descriptions of the two systems, and what can be achieved when they are fully understood and acknowledged.
Teach Me Language: A Language Manual for Children with Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Related Developmental Disorders (SKF Books, 1997)
Sabrina Freeman and Lorelei Drake
Teach Me Language aims to help parents and speech therapists by acting as a resource for establishing therapy within a child’s home. It achieves this by providing easy-to-understand instructions for various activities to help children on the autism spectrum deal with delayed language.
A Teacher’s Guide to Applied Behavior Analysis: Classroom Solutions for Maladaptive Behavior (Createspace, 2014)
Bret Kernoff BCBA
This book by Bret Kernoff is written specifically for classroom teachers, some of the most common users of applied behavior analysis. Teachers will finish the book with a solid understanding of topics such as measuring behavior, behavior change procedures, and the ethical considerations of ABA, among much more. Each section includes helpful teaching techniques to make ABA that much more helpful in the classroom.
Understanding Applied Behavior Analysis: An Introduction to ABA for Parents, Teachers, and other Professionals (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2015)
Albert J. Kearney
Albert J. Kearney’s book is ideal for those seeking an introduction to applied behavior analysis. In readable language, Kearney describes important terms, basic principles, and the most common procedures of ABA. He also briefly introduces more advanced topics such as precision teaching and behavioral education.
The Verbal Behavior Approach: How to Teach Children with Autism and Related Disorders (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2007)
Dr. Mary Barbera and Tracy Rasmussen
Written by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, The Verbal Behavior Approach focuses on Verbal Behavior (VB), a specific form of applied behavior analysis. Parents interested in VB will learn about how this particular strategy works well with children who have little to no verbal abilities.