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ABC’s of ABA

Do you know the ABCs of ABA?

The core principle of ABA is that an individual’s behavior is …

  • Lawful (Guided by principles)

  • Observable (We can see it)

  • Measurable (We can count it)

antecedent

A is for Antecedent

The term “antecedent” refers to what came before the behavior in question. What was happening before your child started engaging in meltdown behaviors? Put on your detective hat and describe the prior scene as best you can

Take note of sensory details, transitions, interactions … anything that might be significant from your child’s point of view. Be as specific and concrete as possible. “We walked into a store” is good, but “We walked into a store where there were flashing lights and buzzing alarms sounding” is better.

B is for Behavior

“Behavior” refers to what your child did that is problematic. Describe the action in detail. Did your child throw himself on the floor, or cover his ears and scream? What behavior came first, and what came last?

At this stage, don’t include your interpretation of the behaviors; simply describe what you saw with your five senses.


C is for Consequence

“Consequence” refers to what happened after the maladaptive behavior. After your child had the meltdown, what happened next? Did you buy him the toy that he wanted, or did you leave the store together? Again, simply describe what happened in measurable terms, without judgment.

Once you’ve completed your data sheet, file it in a safe place. Each time your child engages in the behavior of concern, fill out another sheet. After a few days or a week, gather the data sheets together and start looking for trends.


D is for Data

When it comes to changing maladaptive behaviors, data sheets are a key piece of the puzzle. As such, your ABA therapist may ask you to take data on your child’s behavior at home. Data collection will help the clinician to assess patterns, tailor future lessons, and evaluate progress over time. Likewise, your child’s IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) may specify data collection during school hours.