There are many new terms and shorthands that enter into your world when services begin and it can get overwhelming. That's why we created this glossary, so that we can all speak the same language.
Concepts and Principles:
  • Applied Behavior Analysis

    The science of applying the techniques based on the principles of behavior to promote socially significant change.

  • Evidence Based Practice

    The application of interventions shared in peer-reviewed publications that have been replicated across different people and settings.

  • Positive reinforcement

    After the child engages in a target behavior, the BI presents a consequence (praise, toy, tickles, etc.) that increases the probability that the target behavior will occur again.

  • Extinction

    After determining how an undesirable behavior has been reinforced in the past, the therapist (and family!) end the reinforcement of that behavior and thereby decrease the frequency of that behavior.

  • Chaining

    A way of teaching a single skill, such as brushing teeth, in a series of steps in which each step becomes a signal for the next step in the chain to occur. Reinforcement in a chained task occurs only at the end of the task. Chains can be taught as “forward” chains where the first step taught is the first step in the chain or as a “backward” chain where the first step taught is the last step in the chain.

  • Shaping

    The process of teaching a behavior by first reinforcing approximations of the behavior. This happens gradually by continuing to teach approximations that more closely resemble the ultimate behavior until the individual is eventually able to exhibit the desired behavior.

  • Function of behavior

    All behavior is maintained by a consequence. Consequences include: access to items, attention, escape from a non-preferred task or to gain sensory input. ABC data helps determine the function of the behavior.

  • Prompt

    Could be thought of as a “hint” to increase the likelihood of a child being correct. A prompt can range from physically taking a child’s hand and picking up an item to placing an item slightly closer to the child than all other items.

  • Probe

    Testing out a new program or target in order to determine what the child already knows, and what targets should be taught first.

  • Maintenance

    Ensuring the skills a child has learned previously continue to be known. This can be done during other programs, when situations naturally arise, at periodic intervals or as an alternative to more difficult tasks when a child is having a hard day.

  • Generalization

    The child performs a skill in a variety of places (school, home, etc.), with a variety of stimuli (people, places, things), over a period of time (not just for one day or one week).

  • Prime

    Preparing a child for a situation by clarifying the rules and expected behavior before the situation actually occurs.

  • SD (discriminative stimulus)

    What the BI says or does to imply that the child should engage in a specific behavior. This can be a verbal instruction, a gesture, or even the presentation of materials.

Communication Terms:
  • Mands

    A mand is a request made by your child. Think “demand” to help you remember. When a child mands, we generally reinforce that behavior by providing the child with the item that s/he asked for.

  • Receptive Language

    The language the child can hear and understand.

  • Expressive Language

    The language a child uses to communicate to with others.

Program Supports:
  • Program Guide

    A sheet that shows the purpose of the program, the teaching method, how data should be taken, and which targets will be introduced and mastered.

  • Individual Education Plan (IEP)

    Plan developed by the team members associated with the student in a given school district. The team members vary but can consist of the family, teacher, Occupational Therapist, Speech Therapist, School Psychologist and behavioral team.

  • Functional Behavior Assessment

    Assessment comprised of an indirect (e.g., interview, questionnaire, survey, etc.) and descriptive (i.e., direct observation) portion to identify the function (i.e., why the problem behavior occurs) of the problem behavior. This can be conducted in one observation or broken down into multiple observations.

  • ABC Data Collection

    Data taken after a behavior in order to analyze why it is occurring. BIs take data on the ANTECEDENT: what occurred immediately before the behavior, BEHAVIOR: specific description of the behavior, CONSEQUENCE: what happened immediately after the behavior.

  • DTT (discrete trial training)

    A way of breaking down complex skills into smaller, more teachable units. The three terms used are: STIMULUS: what the BI says or does to imply that a response is required, RESPONSE: what the child does, and CONSEQUENCE: how the BI reacts.