Kids Spot

Premier Pediatric Therapy is now a part of Kids SPOT family of companies

Help your child decrease problem behavior and improve beneficial skills. For more information, please call us at (888) 865-4538.

Contact us today

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy can equip children with necessary skills they will use for the rest of their lives. Research suggests that 12 to 24 months of this treatment can improve socialization, expressive language and communication skills.

If you are considering enrolling your child in ABA therapy or want to learn more about the process, familiarizing yourself with some common terminology is an excellent starting point. We put together this comprehensive list of terms associated with ABA therapy, providing a valuable resource for those seeking a deeper understanding of the principles and practices within this field.

What Is ABA Therapy?

Pediatric ABA therapy aims to help children develop better interpersonal skills, such as:

  • Written and verbal communication
  • Independence
  • Relationship-building
  • Time management
  • Coping and problem-solving
  • Self-control and self-regulation

Through ABA, children can also learn essential functional skills like dressing themselves, practicing personal hygiene and using the restroom. ABA is a standard therapy for kids with developmental delays, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Down syndrome.

Ultimately, the goal of ABA therapy is to elicit socially important behaviors and reduce behaviors that are harmful or disruptive to development. It emphasizes skills that improve the child's quality of life and independence, including social, academic, communication and daily life skills.

While individuals of all ages can undergo ABA therapy, it's recommended to start this treatment as early as possible. Most kids begin this behavioral therapy between the ages of 2 and 6 years old.

Standard ABA Terms To Know

Our ABA glossary covers the basic terms surrounding this therapy, equipping you with a broader knowledge of how ABA works. Here are some different ABA techniques and principles that shape this treatment:

1. A-B-C Model

The A-B-C model follows a sequence of three events — what happens before, during and after the behavior. The three components of this model are:

  • Antecedent: The antecedent is the stimulus that triggers the behavior in a child, such as wanting an item they can't have, being ignored or not wanting to follow a request.
  • Behavior: The behavior is the child's response to the antecedent, such as throwing a tantrum.
  • Consequence: The consequence is the event that follows the behavior, such as ignoring the tantrum or giving the child the item.

The A-B-C model is one of the most simple yet vital components in reinforcing good behaviors. Recording the before, during and after events can help us assess why a behavior occurred.

The core principle behind the A-B-C model is that children learn many of the behaviors we display. Kids can learn behaviors by being directly taught or by mimicking others. Consequences help encourage positive behaviors and make inappropriate behaviors less likely to recur.

2. Baseline

A baseline describes a period of observation where we collect information relevant to the behavior being studied before proceeding with treatment.

ABA therapy is a measurable intervention that strives to modify behavior. ABA therapists keep detailed records of their work and any changes they identify. A baseline begins this data collection, representing a child's habits or behaviors before therapy commences. It provides a solid starting point for behavior comparisons.

Baseline data is critical, as it provides information regarding the individual's current skills and activities. After treatment begins, the therapist can draw a comparison between where the individual started and the improvements they've made. With that in mind, baseline data is fundamental in determining whether the intervention is effective.

3. Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)

A BIP is a written plan customized to the child. It essentially guides the ABA therapy program and activities. The plan identifies negative habits, outlining a step-by-step process to evoke change and reinforce healthy behaviors. A BIP usually covers the following components:

  • The problem: A detailed description of the behavior
  • What is causing the problem: Information gathered during the initial behavior assessment regarding common triggers of the behavior
  • How to solve the problem: Strategies to replace the negative behaviors with positive ones

A BIP includes extensive notes about why the behavior occurred instead of merely stating what happened. It should also help other people in the child's life — such as family members and teachers — understand how they can reinforce good behaviors.

4. Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)

An FBA is another essential resource preceding ABA therapy. A BIP is written based on the outcome of an FBA. An FBA assesses what is causing or encouraging the unhealthy behavior, and the BIP outlines the steps and actions to modify the behavior.

A therapist can use an FBA to uncover why a child exhibits a certain behavior. This behavior assessment for kids typically involves four main steps:

  1. Defining the behavior
  2. Collecting information
  3. Creating a hypothesis about the cause of the behavior
  4. Developing a comprehensive plan to change the behavior

5. Prompt

A prompt is an action or stimulus that increases the likelihood of the desired response from the child. You can think of prompts like “hints.” It's important to fade out prompts quickly so the child learns to respond to natural cues independently.

Prompts can be hand gestures, verbal instructions and other actions to elicit a correct response. Some different types of prompts include:

  • Gestural: Gestural prompts might include motioning toward, looking at, pointing to or moving closer to something.
  • Verbal: Verbal prompts provide spoken directions that guide the child to display the desired response, such as “What do you do next?” or “Put your books on your desk.”
  • Visual: These prompts use photographs, videos, drawings, flashcards and other visual cues that teach the child to display the target skill or behavior.
  • Physical: These prompts physically guide the child to help them perform the target behavior. For example, an ABA therapist might help a child tie their shoes by physically guiding their hands through the process.

6. Reinforcer

A reinforcer increases the likelihood of a specific response or behavior. There are two types of reinforcers:

  • Positive: With positive reinforcement, children learn that good things happen when they display appropriate, productive behaviors. For instance, they might receive a piece of candy, a toy or verbal praise after successfully completing a task.
  • Negative: Negative reinforcement encourages a particular behavior by taking something unpleasant away. For instance, a child may dislike the feeling of wet hands after washing them. They dry their hands on the towel, and the unpleasant feeling goes away. They now understand that if they don't want their hands to remain wet, they can use a towel to remove the water.

Learn More About Our ABA Therapy Services Today

After exploring the different ABA principles and techniques, you can have more peace of mind when starting your child in this program. If you're ready to enroll your child in ABA therapy, turn to Premier Pediatric Therapy, part of the Kids SPOT Family of Companies.

We know that every child is unique in their developmental journey. That's why we work closely with each child to develop a play-based treatment plan fully customized to their needs. Our state-of-the-art services aim to set every child up for long-term success and independence. We even offer in-home ABA therapy, giving your child personalized instruction in the comfort of a familiar environment.

Learn more about our ABA therapy program, then fill out our care request form today. We look forward to working with you and your child!