As a parent Applied Behavioral Analyses (ABA) uses a lot of jargon words that leave us confused and wondering what the heck the therapist just told us! Arming yourself with the professional language of ABA will help you understand what the analyst or therapist may be saying when discussing your child with you (or even each other).
ABA – Applied Behavioral Analyses.
ABC – A three step behavior process that stands for, antecedent, behavior and consequence.
ASD – Autism spectrum disorder
Abscissa – The horizontal line graph that measures the time a behavior occurs.
Active Behavior – A behavior which can change, such as running, jumping etc, sitting still is not an active behavior.
Active Responding – When a child is expected to behave by solving problems, speaking, writing etc rather than just listening.
Advocate – Somebody who speaks out on behalf of a person.
Americans with Disabilities Act – Federal civil rights law protecting those with disabilities.
Annual Goal – A goal that you wish your child to reach within a set time period.
Antecedent – What happened before a behavior.
Approach – Choosing which form of treatment will be used, ‘the approach used’.
Augmentative Communication – Any communication made without using speech, such as pictures, sign, or electronic devices.
BCBA – People with this qualification are able to oversee and supervise programmes.
Behavior – Not always something bad, this is when a child does a behavior that is measurable, such as a meltdown or manding.
Chaining – This is the word used to describe when a therapist teaches a child a task using multiple steps. These can be taught backwards or forwards and still be successful.
Chronological age – How old the child is biologically.
Cognitive – Referring to thinking skills, which includes receiving and understanding information. This could be done by placing a square in a square shaped slot by understanding where the square needed to go.
Consequence – What happens after a behavior occurs.
Consultant – Anyone your therapist consults with/creates plans with, or a person who trains people.
DSM – Diagnostic manual for all mental disorders. This let’s a therapist know the criteria for each diagnoses.
DTT – Discrete trial training. This is when a skill is taught multiple times, usually by giving a demand and expecting a specific response, followed by praise.
Deprivation – When a motivator is removed/lessened so it is very desirable.
Development age – How old the child is ‘developmentally’, measured by tasks and skills they can complete based on the neurologically typical age range for those skills.
Developmentally Delayed – When a child is delayed compared to their peers.
Echoic – When you ask a child to repeat something and they repeat it on demand.
Echolalia – Where a child repeats what is said back to you almost compulsively. So instead of answering a question they repeat parts of the question, or the entire sentence.
Elopement – The official term for a child running away, or bolting.
Environmental Modification – Where the environment is changed to reduce barriers affecting instruction, behavior and teaching.
Expressive language – The use of language to convey meaning.
Extinction burst – When a child suddenly starts doing the behavior more often, or at a higher level, once a re-enforcer is removed.
Extinction – Removing what re-enforced your child to do something, such as giving attention to whining, which results in the child doing this less.
Fine motor – The small movements you perform with your body. With Autism you may see that a child has a hard time picking things up with his/her fingers or writing.
Floor-time – When a child moves away from table-learning, this is often child led learning.
Generalization – Being able to apply what you have learned to all situations. Such as learning how to ask for juice in therapy, then asking the same way at home.
Gross Motor Skills – Large muscles in the body perform gross motor skills. This could be jumping or running.
Hand-Over-Hand – When a therapist will literally move your child’s body to show them what they mean by a demand. For example, they may ask them to pick up a block and when the child doesn’t understand or refuses, they will take their hands and help them pick up the block with plenty of praise.
High functioning Autism – A child with Autism who has a great grasp of age appropriate skills but is unable to socialize with ease.
Hypersensitive – Very sensitive to outside stimulation.
Hyposensitive – Not at all sensitive to outside stimulation.
IEP – Individualized education plan. A legal document outlining the educational plan for your child when they are considered to have special needs.
Intervention – Using a plan of action to change an undesired behavior.
Intraverbals – When a child uses speech without visual prompts, such as being able to tell you what they did at school that day.
Level, 1, 2, 3 – Under the DSM criteria each level requires more and more support, with 1 being minimal and 3 being substantial.
Low Functioning Autism – A child who is quite delayed, may not speak etc.
Mand – This is a verbal criterion, and is when a child uses words to ask for something or make a demand. This is usually the first form of language that children learn. Juice, when asking for juice, would be an example of manding.
Mouthing – When a child puts things in their mouth.
NET – Natural environment training is child led therapy or learning from the current environment.
Neurologically-typical – Another way to say ‘normal’. This is when a child develops at a normal rate.
Normal – When a child develops normally. Some people may find this term offensive.
Peer-Mediated – When a child a similar age to yours is trained to interact with your child and teach social skills.
Perseverative Behavior – When a child engages in excessive, repetitive behavior that is not stimming such as asking for an object several times in a row.
Picture Exchange Communication System – Or PECS is used when a child has limited verbal skills, often they are given pictures to exchange with you in order to communicate.
Pivotal Response Training – Where a child is taught pivotal areas of development which are targeted to affect several areas of development at once.
Prompt dependant – When a child has gotten to the point where they consistently need to be prompted to do a specific task and won’t do the task independently.
Prompt – When a therapist prompts a specific response they are looking for, this could be verbally, physically, visually etc.
Punisher – This does not refer to punishing the child, but rather a consequence of an action which reduces a behavior. This could mean having a child move away from a situation where they are being disruptive and being allowed to re-join once they behave appropriately, in this case it could both protect the child and other children/objects involved.
Re-enforcer – When a child is given a motivation to complete a task, such as a favorite toy.
Receptive Language – This is ‘good listening skills’ where a child can follow directions that are non-verbal.
Recovered – When a child no longer fits the diagnostic criteria for ASD.
Regression – Where a skill a child previously knew has reduced or vanished from their repertoire. Or when a behavior eradicated many years ago, comes back.
SLP/OT/PT – Professionals who help with areas of the child’s development. Speech and language therapists (SLP) help with speech delays, OT helps with occupational therapy issues (play), Physical therapists help with fine and gross motor skills.
Satiation – When a re-enforcer no longer works because it has been over-used.
Scripting – A verbal stim of some sort, such as a song that’s repeated over and over.
Scrolling – When a child is asked a question and they go through several responses before reaching the correct response. As in; if they are shown a circle and they say, square, rectangle, circle!
Self-Injurious Behavior – When a child hurts themselves purposefully.
Sensory Integration – Tools used to help a child reach internal sensory needs, this could be a weighted vest or blanket.
Shadow – Somebody who follows your child around in the classroom as a helper.
Stereotypic/Repetitive Behaviors – Also called stimming, this could be repetitive motions such as spinning and flapping.
Tact – A tactile is a verbal term, this is where a child can name objects they can see.
Target Behavior – A behavior the therapist is interested in increasing or decreasing.
Task Reduction – In some cases a child is frustrated by the amount of demands put on them so they are reduced to help increase success levels.
Transitions – A lot of children with Autism have transition issues, this is issues with moving from one location to another or one activity to another.
VB – Or verbal behavior; a branch of ABA that concentrates on speech behavior.
Variable Ratio – When a child is given a demand, or is expected to make a response and is given a re-enforcer every set amount of times. For example, 3-5, the child receives a re-enforcer every time they complete a task 3-5 times.
Vocal/Verbal vs Non-Verbal/Vocal – When a child can use language or not.