Terms to know
Glossary of ABA Terms
There’s a lot of terms in the ABA world and it can be tough to remember them all. Below you will find a list of some of the more common terms you may hear when discussing your kiddo’s treatment with an RBT or BCBA. More will be added over time!
An event, context, activity, etc. that occurs just before any type of behavior – For example, you say “clap” and your child claps his hands. In another example, you say “no candy” and your child begins to cry.
Anything a person says or does that is observable and measurable.
Behavior Intervention Plan
A detailed document that is created by a BCBA which outlines undesired behaviors that are targeted for intervention, the purposes (or functions) that those undesired behaviors serve for the child, and the instructions for how to implement the prescribed proactive, reactive, and replacement strategies that will serve to decrease the undesired behavior over time.
An event that closely follows a behavior that may have an impact on the future occurrence of that same behavior. (e.g. the consequence may either strengthen or weaken the behavior).
In Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), data means to measure some quantifiable aspect of a behavior. For example, a BCBA might count how many times a child screams (i.e. the frequency) or how long a tantrum lasts (i.e. the duration).
How long a behavior occurs – This term is used often when capturing and analyzing data.
How many times a behavior occurs -This term is used often when capturing and analyzing data.
How long it took from the time you ask your child to start a behavior such as cleaning the room to the time they start cleaning – This term is used often when capturing and analyzing data.
A request, which can be performed using a variety of different responses – For example, some children may mand (request) desired items/activities using vocalizations (words or sounds), while others may exchange a picture or use a gesture to mand.
The process by which a person, thing, setting, or activity becomes associated with something else – For example, in ABA, the therapy team’s primary goal in the beginning of therapy is to pair themselves with all of the items/activities that a child loves so the therapy team also becomes highly preferred.
(A type of consequence) any event that closely follows a behavior that results in the increased likelihood of that behavior occurring again in the future
- Conditioned Reinforcement: An item, event, activity, person, stimulus that becomes a “learned” reinforcer because it has been associated with other items/events/activities/people/stimuli that were already existing reinforcers – For example, as mentioned in the example of “pairing” above, the child’s therapy team becomes conditioned reinforcers.
- Positive Reinforcement: The process of adding an event or stimulus during or after a behavior that results in an increased likelihood of that same behavior occurring in the future- For example, a child exchanges a picture to request tickles, which results in the child’s mother providing tickles. The tickles were “added” following the request, which results in an increased likelihood of request for tickles in the future.
- Negative Reinforcement: The process of removing an event or stimulus during or after a behavior that results in an increased likelihood of that same behavior occurring in the future. For example, a child signs “all done” when a non-preferred food is presented, which results in the caregiver removing the food. The non-preferred food was removed following the sign for “all done,” which results in an increased likelihood of the child signing “all done” to remove something non-preferred in the future.
Providing reinforcement for approximations of a desired behavior or skill and gradually building up the approximations until the full extent of the behavior or skill is achieved – This can be used with any behavior or skill, as needed. In one example, a child may initially make the “bah” sound when requesting his favorite ball. When he says “bah,” the ball is provided. Over time, when he is ready, the child may be required to say the full word “ball” when requesting it.
A label (name) for an item / activity / person – For example, a child sees a ball and says, “ball.”
The process in which you break down a larger skill such as hand washing into smaller steps for the child to learn and accomplish. For example, step one would be turning on the water, then wetting your hands, then adding soap to your hands, etc.