Thrive Center for Applied Behavior Analysis

The Thrive Center for Applied Behavior Analysis of Dordt University is a teaching center that serves the Northwest Iowa region in the areas of behavior therapy and skills acquisition for children. The center provides both comprehensive and focused ABA treatment, as well as social skills groups, consultations, and supportive services.

A teacher works with a student one on one

Mission Statement

An instructor at Dordt's Thrive Center for ABA interacts with three children with a puppet

The Thrive Center for ABA of Dordt University employs therapies based on the principles of applied behavior analysis, taking a holistic approach in collaborating with schools, families, and agencies to achieve the best outcomes for each client. Our distinguishing characteristic is the value we place on each person, and our goal is to empower each person to develop their gifts to the fullest and to participate meaningfully in their local community.

What is ABA?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a research-based behavior intervention strategy that has been shown to positively impact programming in schools, homes, and in the community for those with disabilities. ABA is best known for its applications in the area of autism, but it is also a recognized strategy that applies widely to the instruction and support of students with varying abilities in our schools and community homes.

ABA is specifically identified as an evidence-based practice for working with children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Early intervention for young children with autism has been demonstrated to be effective in helping close the gap between these children and their typically developing peers (BACB, 2014).


A picture of a teacher helping a student one-on-one
  • Comprehensive ABA treatment: Treatment addresses a variety of skill deficits across multiple developmental areas. Behaviors for decrease and increase are both addressed. Comprehensive ABA treatment is typically a more intensive treatment protocol, although the intensity will be determined based on client needs. Treatment is typically delivered 1:1 initially and gradually includes small groups.
  • Focused ABA treatment: Focused treatment addresses a limited number of skills and behavioral targets and can include target behaviors for decrease and increase. These plans are appropriate for clients who need treatment for a limited number of functional skills or who have acute problem behaviors that should be prioritized. Treatment may be delivered in a small group or individual format depending on target skills.
  • Social Skills Groups: Groups are play-based sessions that are scheduled by the child’s age and social skill goals. Social skills groups are scheduled throughout the year.
  • Consultations and Supportive Services: Thrive Center offers contract-based supports to area schools and service providers. Supports include Functional Behavior Assessments, Behavior Intervention Plan development and support, and staff training and supervision.

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