Glossary of ABA Terminology
We’ve included a comprehensive glossary for those who are new to ABA. We realize we use some terms everyone may not know so we hope this is useful.
If you have questions regarding our courses please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.
We’ve included a comprehensive glossary for those who are new to ABA. We realize we use some terms everyone may not know so we hope this is useful.
If you have questions regarding our courses please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.
|Acquisition task||A current target being taught||The RBT/ABAT teaches Abby how to write the letter ‘A’ in her name|
|Antecedent||An environmental condition or stimulus change existing or occurring prior to a behavior of interest||Antecedent: Mother takes the iPad away from Henry|
|Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)||A science in which strategies acquired from the principles of behavior are applied to improve socially significant behavior||The RBT/ABAT uses a task analysis, prompting, and positive reinforcement|
|Assessment||A tool used to assist with an evaluation||The BCBA/QBA plans to use VB-MAPP to assess the learner’s skills|
|Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills (ABLLS)||A curriculum-based assessment tool to evaluate 25 skill areas||The BCBA/QBA assesses a skill area that focuses on the learner’s ability use verbal communication|
|Autism Spectrum Disorder||DMS-V: Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts||A boy consistently lines up objects|
|Baseline Data||A measurement of an individual’s behavior or skill before intervention||The RBT/ABAT tracks Baseline data of the number of times a learner picks at his skin|
|Behavior||The activity of a living organism that is observable and measurable||Behavior: Henry yells and cries without tears for 2 minutes|
|Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB)||A nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation established in 1998 to meet professional credentialing needs identified by behavior analysts, governments, and consumers of behavior analysis services||The BACB is known for credentialling RBTs, BCaBAs, BCBAs, and BCBA-Ds, ensuring that those certified are following meeting ethical codes and continuing education|
|Behavior Contracts||A written agreement that is used to establish the expected behaviors or tasks to be completed and the reward the client earns upon the completion of the agreement||The RBT/ABAT and the learner fill out a behavior contract to outline the goals the learner should accomplish|
|Behavior Contrast||This is associated with multiple schedules of reinforcement which often occurs between different settings. The difference between Behavior Contrast and the Matching Law is that Behavior Contrast involves 2 separate schedules of reinforcement across 2 separate environments for one behavior||The learner grabs chips from the jar in the presence and absence of the mother at the same rate. One day the mother screams at the learner for taking chips. The next day, the learner will eat less/no chips in the presence of the mother, but will increase chips eating in the absence of the mother|
|Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)||A treatment plan designed to change or modify a target behavior||The learner’s BIP establishes the antecedent and consequence strategies that will be utilized to address the target behavior|
|Behavior Reduction||Strategies that are utilized to decrease the probability of the target behavior occurring||The RBT/ABAT blocks the hand of the learner to ensure the learner does not hit another child|
|Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA)||A professional with an undergraduate-level certification in behavior analysis or related field. The BCaBA provides behavior analysis services under the supervision of a BCBA||BCaBAs supervise the work of RBTs, for example, they give the RBT feedback on how to use prompting correctly|
|Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)||A professional with a graduate-level certification in behavior analysis. The BCBA is a practitioner who provides behavior analysis services.||BCBAs supervise the work of BCaBAs, RBTs, and other professionals who implement behavioral interventions|
|Chaining||A teaching method to learn multiple steps of a skill||The RBT/ABAT uses Backward Chaining to teach a learner handwashing. This means that the first step the RBT/ABAT teaches the learner, is the last step of the chain: dry hands|
|Consequence||Occurs immediately after the behavior and affects future behaviors||Consequence: Mother holds the iPad and tells Isa, “iPad time is all done.”|
|Continuous Schedule of Reinforcement (CRF)||During CRF, reinforcement is provided every time a behavior is emitted.||Every time your phone rings, you pick up|
|Data||Factual information such as measurements used as a basis for making clinical decisions||Data shows that during the past 30 minutes, Rachid asked 5 times for help and screamed for help 2 times|
|Data Collection||A method of gathering information||The RBT/ABAT writes down on a data collection sheet how many times Hiroko shared a toy during 15 minutes of playtime|
|Discrete Trial Training (DTT)||A teaching strategy that applies simplified and structured steps||RBT/ABAT: “Touch red.”
Learner: Touches red.
RBT/ABAT:”Nice! You touched red.”
The RBT/ABAT blows bubbles for the learner
|Discriminative stimulus (SD)||An instruction that evokes a response||The RBT/ABAT is currently working on an imitation target and uses the SD: “Copy me”|
|Echoic||A verbal behavior where one speaker repeats the word of another speaker||RBT/ABAT: “Music” Learner: “Music”|
|Echolalia||Unnecessary repetition of a phase or sound an individual heard from another speaker||RBT/ABAT: “What’s your first name?”
Learner: “What’s your first name?”
|(RBT or ABAT) Ethics Code||A set of moral principles that guide a professional’s behavior, practice, and decisions (see ABAT ethics or RBT ethics)||The RBT/ABAT is not allowed to make false statements about their work|
|Error Correction||A procedure used when a learner engages in an incorrect response||RBT/ABAT: Holds picture of the color blue and asks, “What color is this?”
RBT/ABAT: “What color is this? Blue.”
RBT/ABAT: “High five.”
Learner: Gives high five.
RBT/ABAT: Presents picture of blue again and asks, “What color is this?”
RBT/ABAT: “Blue, super!”
|Errorless Learning||A teaching strategy that guarantees that the learner will respond correctly||RBT/ABAT: “What is this? Tree.”
|Evidence Based Practice (EBP)||A decision-making model in which the best available evidence is incorporated in order to provide services to learners||ABA is an Evidence Based Practice as it is based on rigorous experimental evaluations (like randomized trials)|
|Expressive Communication||Verbal behavior used to communicate with others||The learner answers another speaker’s question.
RBT/ABAT: “How old are you?”
Learner: “I am 5 years old”
|Extinction||When a previously reinforced behavior is no longer reinforced||The RBT/ABAT does not provide access to an item or attention when the learner tantrums|
|Extinction Burst||This occurs during an extinction process where the target behavior increases in frequency or intensity temporarily||The learner pulls at another person’s arm to gain access, when yelling is no longer effective|
|Fine motor skills||Focuses on the coordination and movement of the small muscles of the hands||The learner uses a string to thread beads|
|Fixed Interval (FI)||An interval schedule is when a response is reinforced after a certain amount of time since the last reinforcement. A fixed interval is when reinforcement is provided after a constant amount of time. Characteristics are moderate response rate with significant pauses after reinforcement||Access to stickers is provided every 5 minutes when the learner is sitting down in class (FI5)|
|Fixed Ratio (FR)||This means that reinforcement that is delivered after a fixed number of correct responses. Characteristics are results in high, steady responding until the reinforcement is delivered; good to use when teaching new behavior; leads to a brief response pause after reinforcement, but responding time quickly resumes||Access to bubbles is provided after 8 correct responses (FR8). Another example can be a factory worker who gets paid for every 10 items manufactured|
|Functional Analysis (FA)||A standard for assessment in ABA to determine the cause of the target behavior. Environmental conditions are manipulated to evoke challenging behavior. Four conditions are used: 3 test conditions (social positive; social negative; alone) and a control condition, play. Test conditions are presented one at the time and in alternating sequence so the assessor can identify which conditions predictable result in problem behaviors (like tantrums). This can lead to determine the function of the behavior (e.g., social positive, social negative, sensory)||The BCBA/QBA assesses the learner’s target behavior to determine if the function of the tantrums is access, escape, attention, or sensory based. An example of 1 of the test conditions is: the BCBA/QBA assessor will leave the learner alone in a testing room, while observing the learner’s behavior for a set period of time. The BCBA/QBA assessor will record data how frequent the learner engages in hitting|
|Functional Analysis Screening Tool (FAST)||A questionnaire designed to identify what influences the target behaviors (for example, aggressive behaviors)||A questionnaire is provided to the parent or caregiver and the results assist to determine the function of the problem behavior (e.g., hitting)|
|Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)||A process designed to identify the target behaviors, what factors supports the behaviors and the purpose of the behaviors. There are 3 main categories: observational, indirect (questionnaires) and Functional Analysis. During an FBA, a variety of data is collected about an identified behavior to evaluate the conditions in the context where the behavior is already occurring. The BCBA/QBA assessor will evaluate the data, and form a hypothesis about the function||As part of the FBA, the BCBA/QBA assessor conducts a parent interview, and requests parents to fill out the FAST. Based on the analysis of these outcomes, the BCBA/QBA assessor determines that the learner’s kicking behavior is based on the function ‘access’|
|Generalization||The ability of a learner to perform a skill under different conditions across settings, people, and materials||The learner demonstrates the same skill with the RBT/ABAT at the dining table as with the mother in the backyard|
|Goal||The proposed outcome of an intervention||The goal for Naderah is to use the spoon to eat her soup|
|Gross Motor Skills||Focuses on the coordination and movement of the larger muscle groups||The learner runs, jumps, and throws the ball into the basketball net|
|Individualized Education Program (IEP)||A written document that is developed to define the student’s educational needs and the goals to achieve those needs||When developing a student’s IEP goals it should be objective, measurable, specific, and realistic. A goal can be that the student learns the alphabet|
|Intermittent Schedules of Reinforcement (INT)||INT is when some, but not all, instances of a behavior are reinforced. Example schedules can be a ratio or interval schedule||A gambling machine|
|Intraverbal||A verbal behavior where the speaker verbally responds to another speaker||RBT/ABAT: “1, 2, __.”
|Maladaptive Behavior||A behavior that inhibits an individual from making adjustments to changes in their environment or situation||When it was time for a learner to transition from one activity to another, the learner yelled and stomped the feet to protest|
|Mand||A verbal behavior where an individual makes a request||Learner: “I want Legos”|
|Matching Law||Organisms divide their behavior between 2 or more concurrent schedules of behavior. Thus, if a behavior is reinforced most of the times in 1 situation and sometimes in another situation, the behavior will occur more frequently in the first situation||When a student wants attention from the teacher and receives more attention from the teacher when talking through the class versus raising one’s hand, the student will continue to talk through the class more often|
|Natural Environment Training (NET)||Utilizing the learner’s natural environment for teaching opportunities||The RBT/ABAT tells the learner to get the shoes. The learner follows the instruction. The RBT/ABAT tells the learner to tie the shoelaces. Once that is done, the RBT/ABAT tells the learner to open the door and go play outside.|
|Negative Punishment||Removing a desired stimulus upon a behavior that will decrease the likelihood of the behavior occurring in the future||A mother takes away a video game console after her 2 children yell and hit each other|
|Negative Reinforcement||Removing an undesired stimulus upon a behavior that will increase the likelihood of the behavior occurring in the future||The learner cleaned up really well. Therefore, the RBT/ABAT decreases the demand of a task from having to put away 3 toys away instead of 7|
|Pairing||A technique where a person will associate themselves with all of the learner’s favorite items and activities||The learner sees the RBT/ABAT and asks the RBT/ABAT, “Let’s do a dance party!” The RBT/ABAT does the dance party with the learner. The learner associates the RBT/ABAT as the person who will provide a fun activity|
|Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)||A communication tool that uses pictures and other symbols to communicate requests or needs||The BCBA/QBA created a PECS board that contains the learner’s preferred items. The learner now points to the ‘book’ icon to ask for a book|
|Positive Punishment||Adding an undesired stimulus upon a behavior that will decrease the likelihood of the behavior occurring in the future||A student is called out in class by the teacher after drumming on the table during class time. The student does not like to be called out. This consequence will result in a possible reduction of the drumming in the future|
|Positive Reinforcement||Adding a desired stimulus upon a behavior that will increase the likelihood of the behavior occurring in the future||After the correct response, the RBT/ABAT rewards the learner with bubbles|
|Precision Teaching||A system (it is not a curriculum or a way of teaching) for precisely defining and continuously measuring features of behavior. The behavior is graphed and analyzed on the Standard Celeration Charts (SCC) so timely and effective data-based decisions can be made to improve behavior. Precision Teaching is mostly used for skills that require fluency||The BCBA/QBA pinpoints a behavior (using an operational definition). For example, the learner kicked the ball in the goal 10 times in 2 minutes. Rate data: 5 times per minute. The BCBA/QBA measured this behavior by continuous observation (for example, during short observation periods). The measurement (mostly frequency) goes into the SCC. The BCBA/QBA can now easily read the learner’s behavior and can make quick decisions regarding teaching and treatment decisions|
|Preference||An item or activity the individual is interested in||Parents reported that the learner loves to play with puzzles and blocks. The RBT/ABAT will use the puzzles and blocks in the session and alternates with less preferred activities|
|Preference Assessments||Methods or procedures to identify a client’s potential reinforcers. Once a selected preference increases a behavior, it can be used as a reinforcer. There are different types of preference assessments, such as: free operant observation, single stimulus, paired stimuli, multiple stimuli without replacement, multiple stimuli with replacement||An example of Multiple Stimuli without Replacement: The RBT/ABAT places 5 preferred items on the table, for example: a car, bubbles, Playdough, puzzle and paint. The learner is asked what he/she wants. The RBT/ABAT waits for the learner to choose an item. After the learner interacts with the item for 15-30 seconds, the RBT/ABAT will request to get the item returned, and will place it out of sight. Again, the RBT/ABAT will ask the learner what he/she wants. The learner now selects an item out of 4 items. This will continue until all items were chosen. When it’s completed, the RBT/ABAT has a list that shows the sequence of preferences|
|Probe||When a new skill is introduced by the RBT/ABAT, the RBT/ABAT will probe the skill. This means that the skill level will be measured. Probing also occurs at the onset of ABA, during an assessment||The RBT/ABAT probes the target ‘bubbles’ to find out what the learner’s current skill level is. RBT/ABAT:”Bubbles.”
This response could mean that the target of ‘bubbles’ should still be taught to the learner.
|Prompt||A level of assistance that is meant to encourage a learner to perform a desired behavior. Examples of prompts can be full physical prompt, partial physical prompt, verbal prompt, model prompt, visual prompt, gesture prompt and a written prompt||RBT/ABAT: “Do this,” and claps hands.
Learner: Only lifts the hands up.
RBT/ABAT: “Do this,” and presents the same action and proceeds to place hands over learner’s hands to imitate the same action
|Prompt Dependent||When a learner continues to need a prompt in order to initiate a skill that was previously mastered||RBT/ABAT: Presents a picture and asks the learner, “What is this?”
Learner: Looks at the picture and then looks at the RBT/ABAT (to receive a prompt)
|Prompt Fade||Decreasing the amount and level of prompts over time to promote a learner’s independent response||The RBT/ABAT goes from using a full physical prompt to a gesture prompt when teaching handwashing|
|Punishment||Introducing or removing a stimulus after the target behavior occurs that will decrease the likelihood that the behavior will occur in the future||The RBT/ABAT gives the learner a time-out|
|Receptive Communication||Listener behavior used to respond to others. This is not verbal.||Learner gives the toy when asked for the toy|
|Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)||A paraprofessional who practices under the close ongoing supervision of a BCBA||The RBT/ABAT is responsible for the implementation of the learner’s programs|
|Reinforcement||Introducing or removing a stimulus after the target behavior occurs that will increase the likelihood that the behavior will occur in the future||The RBT/ABAT gives the learner a car after the learner requested for the car correctly|
|Satiation||The reinforcer is no longer effective due to being overused||During the ABA session, the learner is no longer interested in playing with trains due to playing with the train set for a while before the session took place|
|Self-Injurious Behavior (SIB)||Behaviors that lead to physical injury to self||The learner bangs one’s hands on hard surfaces. The hands bleed|
|Scripting||Vocal repetition of the same word, phase, or sound||The learner repeats a line heard from a favorite video|
|Scrolling||When a learner provides several answers to a question before providing the correct response||RBT/ABAT: Presents picture of a lion and asks the learner, “What is this?”
Learner: “A cat. A tiger. A lion”
|Shaping||A teaching process where the approximations of a desired behavior is reinforced and when a new approximation occurs the previous approximation is no longer reinforced||The RBT/ABAT is teaching a non-verbal learner to pronounce target ‘Ten.’
RBT/ABAT: “Great job on saying te!”
The learner repeats this response approximately 10 more times.
The next day, RBT/ABAT: “Ten.”
RBT/ABAT: “Ten” (prompts to say it correctly and does not provide reinforcement for ‘Te’)
|7 Dimensions of ABA||The core principles for developing interventions
1. Applied: The intervention uses realistic settings.
2. Behavioral:The behavior is observable and measurable.
3. Analytic: Data is used to make evidence-based decisions.
4. Technological: The intervention is descriptive.
5. Conceptually Systematic: Using behavioral principles.
6. Effective: The intervention produces significant changes.
7. Generality: The intervention works across time, different people, and settings
|1. Applied: What is important to the learner should be directly related to the goal of the program and related to help improve the quality of life for the learner.
2. Behavioral: It should focus on what the learner is doing or needs to do (not what they think or feel.)
3. Analytic: The application of the analytic principle is when the BCBA/QBA makes evidence-based decisions from the recorded and analyzed data
4. Technological: The application of the technological principle is when a BCBA/QBA has written a program clearly and concisely so that others are able to accurately implement it
5. Conceptually Systematic: The application of the conceptually systematic principle is when a BCBA/QBA uses behavior change procedures that are based on ABA (like prompting, positive reinforcement etc.)
6. Effective: The application of the effective principle is when the intervention is monitored and evaluated to see if there is a change in behavior.
7. Generality: The application of the generality principle is when the learner is able to demonstrate the same skill or behavior across different settings, time, and people (e.g., uses the restroom at home and at school.)
|Skill||An action performed||Writing, reading, and self-help tasks such as handwashing|
|Skill Acquisition Goals||Goals developed for the purpose of teaching skills||The RBT/ABAT is targeting the learner’s self-help, manding, tacting, and intraverbal programs for today’s ABA session|
|Socially significant behaviors||Important for the individual and the society around them, for example: social skills, communication, and adaptive skills. When selecting behaviors to target for increase (skill acquisition) or decrease (challenging behavior), those skills should be socially significant, meaning that they are important for the day to day life experience of the learner and/or affect their significant others in such ways that create positivity for them and the learner||The BCBA/QBA creates a program for the learner: The learner masters making a sandwich independently|
|Stereotypic/Repetitive behaviors||Stimulatory behaviors||The learner flaps the hands or rocks back and forth|
|Tact||A verbal behavior where the speaker sees, hears, smells, tastes something and then comments about it||The learner plays outside, points to the airplane in the sky, and states, “That’s an airplane.”|
|Target Behavior||The behavior that has been selected for change||The BCBA/QBA focuses on decreasing the client’s tantrums|
|Task Analysis||Breaking down a skill into multiple simple steps||A step-by-step list on how to put on a shirt. For example: pick up shirt with both hands, lift up up etc.|
|Task Reduction||Decreasing the demands placed on a learner to decrease the likelihood of a problem behavior occurring||The caregiver informed the RBT/ABAT that the learner is having a rough day. During the session, the RBT/ABAT asks the learner to clean up 3 items instead of 5 items|
|Variable Interval (VI)||In Operant Conditioning, a Variable Interval schedule is a schedule of reinforcement where a response is rewarded after a varied and unpredictable amount of time. Characteristics of the Variable Interval schedule are resistant to Extinction, rate of response is moderate but steady, and a very minimal pause after reinforcement is given||Access to stickers is delivered after 3 minutes of sitting and again after 5 minutes of sitting. This is on average 4 minutes (VI4). Other examples can be your employer checking your work, or checking your email|
|Variable Ratio (VR)||Schedule of reinforcement where a response is reinforced after an unpredictable number of responses. Characteristics: creates a steady, high rate of responding||Access to bubbles is delivered after 4 correct responses and again after 6 correct responses (VR5). Another example can be gambling and lottery games|
|Verbal Behavior (VB)||Verbal Behavior (VB) is a method of teaching communication and language, that focuses on the meaning of a word is found in their purpose. VB is based on the theories of behaviorist B.F. Skinner||The learner asks for the pencil when he/she sees the pencil and because he/she wants to use it (for example, the paper is on front of the learner, the learner looks at the paper, and then asks for a pencil)|
|Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP)||A curriculum-based assessment tool to evaluate over 1000 skills covering the 16 areas of the VB-MAPP||The BCBA/QBA assess the learner’s ability to tact 10 different common household items|
|Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale (VABS)||A standardized measure of adaptive behavior that focuses on the measurement of an individual’s adaptive behaviors||The parent or caregiver is interviewed to evaluate the learner’s fine motor skills|
|Visual Schedules||A tool that can help individuals to follow a routine and assist with transitions between activities||The learner has a morning, afternoon, and evening visual schedule for the home environment|