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Common Terms

Throughout our services you may hear us use different behaviour analytic terms. We always do our best to explain everything in detail but sometimes it's a lot to take in all at once. If we use a term you aren't familiar with please ask us! We always welcome questions! Here you will find a written definition of some terms we find ourselves using quite often.

Applied Behaviour Analysis

ABA or Applied Behaviour Analysis is a science. The goal of ABA interventions is to improve socially significant behaviours using strategies that are derived from the principles of behaviour. Formal interventions that have a foundation in ABA (interventions or strategies with a goal of changing behaviour) should be supervised by a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA). Supervision of ABA interventions requires ongoing analysis of progress and the implementation of revisions based on observable, measurable behaviour change. 


When there is a change in the environment (adding or taking something away from an event) following a behaviour, that results in an increase in that behaviour in the future when presented with the same environmental conditions. For example: someone asks you for a cookie and you give them a cookie - this increases the likelihood that they will ask you for a cookie in the future.


 A term used to describe the presentation of an already preferred item with a person or activity with the goal of creating a positive experience for the individual while engaging in that activity or with that person.

For Example: asking a child to come sit at the table and providing them with a highly preferred activity while sitting at the table will begin to "pair" that table with a highly preferred activity which will likely increase cooperation with coming to sit at that table.


Mand or manding is just a behaviour analysts way of saying request or ask for. When we use this term we are typically trying to figure out, how does the child communicate they want something or they want something to stop. Do they use spoken language, do they use "undesirable" behaviour (e.g., hit or push things away when they don't want them), do they use sign language or an alternative augmentative communication system (e.g., voice output device).


Is a process in which you help an individual achieve a goal by breaking the goal down into many, many small steps.As they are able to take the small steps you provide reinforcement and systematically move closer and closer to the end goal. For example: if a goal is to eat broccoli you could use shaping by, first have the child touch it - provide reinforcement, pick it up - provide reinforcement, lick it - provide reinforcement and eventually put it in their mouth & eat it - provide reinforcement.


Helping someone complete a task by giving them additional support - giving more information, physically helping, pointing or gesturing, positioning items in the environment to make the task easier.
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"A" is for ANTECEDENT. An antecedent is anything that happens before the behaviour. This includes: what was said, who was present, what the child was doing and what other people were doing.
"B" is for BEHAVIOUR. This refers to the behaviours that are being targeted to increase or decrease.
"C" is for CONSEQUENCE. This refers to anything that happened in the environment after the behaviour occurred. It includes what was said, what was done, who did it and how the child responded.
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Direct Assessment

A direct assessment may be an observation of the child or an observation of the child and caregiver together, Typically these observations occur in the setting in which the behaviour is likely to occur (e.g., parent & child at dinner time in the home). A direct assessment may also require the BCBA to engage directly with the child. In some situations the BCBA may evaluate how the child responds to different antecedents and consequences. This helps the BCBA to determine why the child is engaging in certain behaviours. 
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Indirect Assessment

An indirect assessment typically involves one or many caregivers in the child's life completing: surveys, interviews, questionnaires, checklists, rating scales, data collection (in the absence of a BCBA). This helps the BCBA review information about conditions in the environment that correlate with certain behaviours. 
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