ABC’s of Behavior Analysis - Little Spurs Autism Centers

ABC’s of Behavior Analysis

  • January 16, 2024
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ABC’s of Behavior Analysis - Little Spurs Autism Centers

If you have a child with Autism who is currently enrolled in ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy, you may have heard some unique terms and language being used to describe the processes going on in autism therapy. We are going to breakdown some of the most common terms here to help parents and caregivers navigate the world of ABA with ease. ABA is the science dedicated to the understanding and improvement of human behavior. 


The term antecedent refers to what occurs in the environment immediately before the behavior being observed occurs. For example, taking a child’s favorite toy out of the environment, or asking them to share it with a peer is an antecedent because it is what comes before the behavior the child is exhibiting. 

  • Therapists will work to clearly define what is happening in the environment before the behavior occurs so they can clearly outline a goal for adapting the child’s behavior.  
  • Therapists can work with a child to learn how to request extra time with a preferred toy or activity or even building a visual schedule and having the child use that when transitioning to new activities, among various other skills that can be implemented into the child’s therapy plan. 


Often, the word “behavior” is thought of in a negative way, but behavior simply refers to what a person is doing. Behavior must be observable and measurable.  

  • A maladaptive behavior refers to a negative action taken, such as one taken to harm yourself or others. For example, when removing access to a child’s favorite toy, or asking the child to share that toy with a peer, the child begins to scream or throw items. 
  • ABA works with the purpose of decreasing maladaptive behaviors and replacing them with behaviors that will help the individual learn to cope with different circumstances easily. For example, when it is time to put the toy away or share it with a peer, working with the child to replace the throwing and screaming behaviors with requesting more time.  


The term consequences in ABA refers to what occurs in the environment immediately after the behavior occurs.  

  • Similar to the term “behavior”, “consequences” can have a negative connotation as well. In ABA, consequences do NOT mean punishments, it is simply what is happening after a behavior occurs.  
  • When taking ABC data the observer records a descriptive account of the behaviors of interest including what happens before, during, and after any behavior occurs. This helps us understand what the child is going through, and how we can help.  
  • We incorporate a naturalistic and play-led approach to ABA, with the focus being on how to make significant positive changes to the lives of every child and family we serve. We are here to support each child on their journey and hope to give them tools they need to navigate their lives.  

Little Spurs Autism Centers offers collaborative and compassionate ABA Therapy in San Antonio to children 0-21 years old. Offering both center-based and home-based care, LSAC is excited to empower families by providing them with the support they need. For more information, or to find ABA therapy near me, please email us at    

Article By: Marina Diaz, BCBA. Breanna Kolts, BT.

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