Glossary of ABA Terminology

TermDefinitionExample
Acquisition taskA current target being taughtThe RBT teaches Abby how to write the letter ‘A’ in her name
AntecedentAn environmental condition or stimulus change existing or occurring prior to a behavior of interestAntecedent: 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 behaviorThe RBT uses a task analysis, prompting, and positive reinforcement
AssessmentA tool used to assist with an evaluationThe BCBA 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 areasThe  BCBA assesses a skill area that focuses on the learner’s ability use verbal communication
Autism Spectrum DisorderDMS-V: Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contextsA boy consistently lines up objects
Baseline DataA measurement of an individual’s behavior or skill before interventionThe RBT tracks Baseline data of the number of times a learner picks at his skin
BehaviorThe activity of a living organism that is observable and measurableBehavior: 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 servicesThe BACB is known for credentialling RBTs, BCaBAs, BCBAs, and BCBA-Ds, ensuring that those certified are following meeting ethical codes and continuing education
Behavior ContractsA 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 agreementThe RBT and the learner fill out a behavior contract to outline the goals the learner should accomplish
Behavior ContrastThis 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 behaviorThe 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 behaviorThe learner’s BIP establishes the antecedent and consequence strategies that will be utilized to address the target behavior
Behavior ReductionStrategies that are utilized to decrease the probability of the target behavior occurringThe RBT 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 BCBABCaBAs 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
ChainingA teaching method to learn multiple steps of a skillThe RBT uses Backward Chaining to teach a learner handwashing. This means that the first step the RBT teaches the learner, is the last step of the chain: dry hands
ConsequenceOccurs immediately after the behavior and affects future behaviorsConsequence: 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
DataFactual information such as measurements used as a basis for making clinical decisionsData shows that during the past 30 minutes, Rachid asked 5 times for help and screamed for help 2 times
Data CollectionA method of gathering informationThe RBT 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 stepsRBT: “Touch red” Learner: Touches red RBT:”Nice! You touched red.” The RBT blows bubbles for the learner
Discriminative stimulus (SD)An instruction that evokes a responseThe RBT is currently working on an imitation target and uses the SD: “Copy me”
EchoicA verbal behavior where one speaker repeats the word of another speakerRBT: “Music” Learner: “Music”
EcholaliaUnnecessary repetition of a phase or sound an individual heard from another speakerRBT: “What’s your first name?” Learner: “What’s your first name?”
RBT ® Ethics CodeA set of moral principles that guide a professional’s behavior, practice, and decisions (see ethics)The RBT is not allowed to make false statements about their work
Error CorrectionA procedure used when a learner engages in an incorrect responseRBT: Holds picture of the color blue and asks, “What color is this?” Learner: “Purple.” RBT: “What color is this? Blue.” Learner: “Blue” RBT: “High five” Learner: Gives high five RBT: Presents picture of blue again and asks, “What color is this?” Learner: “Blue” RBT: “Blue, super!”
Errorless LearningA teaching strategy that guarantees that the learner will respond correctlyRBT: “What is this? Tree.” Learner: “Tree.”
Evidence Based Practice (EBP)A decision-making model in which the best available evidence is incorporated in order to provide services to learnersABA is an Evidence Based Practice as it is based on rigorous experimental evaluations (like randomized trials)
Expressive CommunicationVerbal behavior used to communicate with othersThe learner answers another speaker’s question. RBT: “How old are you?” Learner: “I am 5 years old”
ExtinctionWhen a previously reinforced behavior is no longer reinforcedThe RBT does not provide access to an item or attention when the learner tantrums
Extinction BurstThis occurs during an extinction process where the target behavior increases in frequency or intensity temporarilyThe learner pulls at another person’s arm to gain access, when yelling is no longer effective
Fine motor skillsFocuses on the coordination and movement of the small muscles of the handsThe 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 rat with significant pauses after reinforcementAccess 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 resumesAccess 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 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 assessor will leave the learner alone in a testing room, while observing the learner’s behavior for a set period of time. The BCBA 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 assessor will evaluate the data, and form a hypothesis about the functionAs part of the FBA, the BCBA assessor conducts a parent interview, and requests parents to fill out the FAST. Based on the analysis of these outcomes, the BCBA assessor determines that the learner’s kicking behavior is based on the function ‘access’
GeneralizationThe ability of a learner to perform a skill under different conditions across settings, people, and materialsThe learner demonstrates the same skill with the RBT at the dining table as with the mother in the backyard
GoalThe proposed outcome of an interventionThe goal for Naderah is to use the spoon to eat her soup
Gross Motor SkillsFocuses on the coordination and movement of the larger muscle groupsThe 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 needsWhen 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 scheduleA gambling machine
IntraverbalA verbal behavior where the speaker verbally responds to another speakerRBT: “1, 2, __” Learner:”3”
Maladaptive BehaviorA behavior that inhibits an individual from making adjustments to changes in their environment or situationWhen it was time for a learner to transition from one activity to another, the learner yelled and stomped the feet to protest
MandA verbal behavior where an individual makes a requestLearner: “I want Legos”
Matching LawOrganisms 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 situationWhen 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 opportunitiesThe RBT tells the learner to get the shoes. The learner follows the instruction. The RBT tells the learner to tie the shoelaces. Once that is done, the RBT tells the learner to open the door and go play outside.
Negative PunishmentRemoving a desired stimulus upon a behavior that will decrease the likelihood of the behavior occurring in the futureA mother takes away a video game console after her 2 children yell and hit each other
Negative ReinforcementRemoving an undesired stimulus upon a behavior that will increase the likelihood of the behavior occurring in the futureThe learner cleaned up really well. Therefore, the RBT decreases the demand of a task from having to put away 3 toys away instead of 7
PairingA technique where a person will associate themselves with all of the learner’s favorite items and activitiesThe learner sees the RBT and asks the RBT, “Let’s do a dance party!” The RBT does the dance party with the learner. The learner associates the RBT 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 needsThe BCBA 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 PunishmentAdding an undesired stimulus upon a behavior that will decrease the likelihood of the behavior occurring in the futureA 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 ReinforcementAdding a desired stimulus upon a behavior that will increase the likelihood of the behavior occurring in the futureAfter the correct response, the RBT rewards the learner with bubbles
Precision TeachingA 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 fluencyThe BCBA 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 measured this behavior by continuous observation (for example, during short observation periods). The measurement (mostly frequency) goes into the SCC. The BCBA can now easily read the learner’s behavior and can make quick decisions regarding teaching and treatment decisions
PreferenceAn item or activity the individual is interested inParents reported that the learner loves to play with puzzles and blocks. The RBT will use the puzzles and blocks in the session and alternates with less preferred activities
Preference AssessmentsMethods 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 replacementAn example of Multiple Stimuli without Replacement: The RBT 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 waits for the learner to choose an item. After the learner interacts with the item for 15-30 seconds, the RBT will request to get the item returned, and will place it out of sight. Again, the RBT 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 has a list that shows the sequence of preferences
ProbeWhen a new skill is introduced by the RBT, the RBT will probe the skill. This means that the skill level will be measured. Probing also occurs at the onset of ABA, during an assessmentThe RBT probes the target ‘bubbles’ to find out what the learner’s current skill level is. RBT:”Bubbles” Learner: “Bubb.” This response could mean that the target of ‘bubbles’ should still be taught to the learner.
PromptA 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 promptRBT: “Do this,” and claps hands Learner: Only lifts the hands up RBT: “Do this,” and presents the same action and proceeds to place hands over learner’s hands to imitate the same action
Prompt DependentWhen a learner continues to need a prompt in order to initiate a skill that was previously masteredRBT: Presents a picture and asks the learner, “What is this?” Learner: Looks at the picture and then looks at the RBT (to receive a prompt)
Prompt FadeDecreasing the amount and level of prompts over time to promote a learner’s independent responseThe RBT goes from using a full physical prompt to a gesture prompt when teaching handwashing
PunishmentIntroducing or removing a stimulus after the target behavior occurs that will decrease the likelihood that the behavior will occur in the futureThe RBT gives the learner a time-out
Receptive CommunicationListener 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 BCBAThe RBT is responsible for the implementation of the learner’s programs
ReinforcementIntroducing or removing a stimulus after the target behavior occurs that will increase the likelihood that the behavior will occur in the futureThe RBT gives the learner a car after the learner requested for the car correctly
SatiationThe reinforcer is no longer effective due to being overusedDuring 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 selfThe learner bangs one’s hands on hard surfaces. The hands bleed
ScriptingVocal repetition of the same word, phase, or soundThe learner repeats a line heard from a favorite video
ScrollingWhen a learner provides several answers to a question before providing the correct responseRBT: Presents picture of a lion and asks the learner, “What is this?” Learner: “A cat. A tiger. A lion”
ShapingA teaching process where the approximations of a desired behavior is reinforced and when a new approximation occurs the previous approximation is no longer reinforcedThe RBT is teaching a non-verbal learner to pronounce target ‘Ten’: RBT: “Ten” Learner: “Te-“ RBT: Great job on saying te!” The learner repeats this response approximately 10 more times.   The next day: RBT: “Ten” Learner: “Te-“ RBT: “Ten” (prompts to say it correctly and does not provide reinforcement for Te)
7 Dimensions of ABA    The core principles for developing interventions AppliedThe intervention uses realistic settingsBehavioralThe behavior is observable and measurable AnalyticData is used to make evidence-based decisionsTechnologicalThe intervention is descriptiveConceptually SystematicUsing behavioral principlesEffective The intervention produces significant changesGeneralityThe intervention works across time, different people, and settingsApplied: The application of the applied principle is when the target behavior is socially significant to the individualBehavioral: The application of the behavioral principle is when the target behavior is defined  Analytic: The application of the analytic principle is when the BCBA makes evidence-based decisions from the recorded and analyzed dataTechnological: The application of the technological principle is when a BCBA has written a program clearly and concisely so that others are able to accurately implement itConceptually Systematic: The application of the conceptually systematic principle is when a BCBA uses behavior change procedures that are based on ABAEffective: The application of the effective principle is when the intervention is monitored and evaluated to see if there is a change in behavior Generality: The application of the generality principle is  when the individual is able to demonstrate the same skill or behavior across different settings, time, and people
SkillAn action performedWriting, reading, and self-help tasks such as handwashing
Skill Acquisition GoalsGoals developed for the purpose of teaching skillsThe RBT is targeting the learner’s self-help, manding, tacting, and intraverbal programs for today’s ABA session
Socially significant behaviorsImportant 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 learnerThe BCBA creates a program for the learner: The learner masters making a sandwich independently
Stereotypic/Repetitive behaviorsStimulatory behaviorsThe learner flaps the hands or rocks back and forth
TactA verbal behavior where the speaker sees, hears, smells, tastes something and then comments about itThe learner plays outside, points to the airplane in the sky, and states, “That’s an airplane.”
Target BehaviorThe behavior that has been selected for changeThe BCBA focuses on decreasing the client’s tantrums
Task AnalysisBreaking down a skill into multiple simple stepsA step-by-step list on how to put on a shirt. For example: pick up shirt with both hands, lift up up etc.
Task ReductionDecreasing the demands placed on a learner to decrease the likelihood of a problem behavior occurringThe caregiver informed the RBT that the learner is having a rough day. During the session, the RBT 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, very minimal pause after reinforcement is givenAccess 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, 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 respondingAccess 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. SkinnerThe 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-MAPPThe BCBA 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 behaviorsThe parent or caregiver is interviewed to evaluate the learner’s fine motor skills
Visual SchedulesA tool that can help individuals to follow a routine and assist with transitions between activitiesThe learner has a morning, afternoon, and evening visual schedule for the home environment
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