Aba measurement systems

7 ABA Data Collection Metdods

Collecting and analyzing data is a crucial component of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Clinicians and practitioners need data to understand the function of behaviors. They can then use this data to create hypotheses and create intervention strategies.


The primary method for assessing behavior change is through repeated data collection (Najdowski, A. C., et al., 2009). The exact data collection method you utilize to track, analyze, and record all of this data will depend upon your unique goals. For example, teaching new social skills may require different data collection methods than changing education behaviors.


Luckily, there are many data collection methodologies out there to assist ABA professionals in leveraging continuous data collection to achieve positive changes.

Why the Data Collection Method Matters

Clinicians, therapists, and specialists all use data to create actionable behavioral support strategies. Whether you want to decrease negative behaviors (e.g., tantrums, violence, aggression, etc.) or increase positive behaviors (e.g., socialization, sharing, etc.), you need to benchmark the effectiveness of your program. Over the course of your time with a child, you may form multiple hypotheses and adjust your program strategy. That’s fine! In fact, the ability to rapidly shift goals and actions based on incoming data is precisely what makes ABA so incredibly effective at provoking long-term behavioral changes.


But, ensuring that your programs are effective can’t be accomplished with a single data set. There are simply too many variables. Luckily, over the years, ABA specialists and researchers have devised a plethora of data collection methods to help you gather the type of data you need to progress.

7 Common ABA Data Collection Methods

1. Frequency/Event & Rate Recording

The frequency/event and rate recording method involves counting and recording the number of times a behavior happens within a specific time frame. This can be how many times a child bangs their fist against the desk or how many times a student bites their pencil eraser. Frequency/event and rate recording can help clinicians and professionals determine how problematic an issue is and the best course of action to take for a specific behavioral issue. It can also help prove the value (or inadequacy) of treatment models over time.


It’s important to remember that frequency/event and rate recordings are only useful for situations where you wish to measure an event with a distinct beginning and end. It should also only be used to measure behaviors that you can accurately count (i.e., behaviors that are slow enough to measure with precision) and behaviors that only last for a small amount of time (given the window of measurement.) So, if you are working with a child who typically gets aggressive for up to 45 minutes, trying to measure how many times they get aggressive in a 3-hour time frame isn’t going to give you an accurate picture of behavioral changes throughout a therapy model.

How to Use Frequency/Event & Rate Recording

  • Set up a time frame where you will measure the behavior (e.g., minutes, hours, days, etc.)
  • Note the time when the first behavior happens.
  • Tally each behavioral tick that occurs until you reach the time frame you originally established.
  • Divide the number of behaviors with the total amount of time to get the frequency.

2. Duration Recording

While frequency/event & rate recording can give you insights into the number of behaviors that happen in a time frame, you may want to know how long a specific behavior lasts. Depending upon your goals, the length of time that an action (e.g., tantrum) lasts may be a significant benchmark for your strategy. In this case, duration recording allows you to record how long a behavior lasts.

This method is also useful for behaviors that are too fast (e.g., chattering teeth) or too variable (e.g., tantrums) to count with frequency/event & rate recording. Let’s take a moment to clarify that it is perfectly acceptable (and recommended) to use more than one data collection method. So, you can measure both the rate/frequency of a behavior as well as how long it lasts. The more data you have, the better you understand the behavior, its cause, and your treatments.

How to Use Duration Recording

  • Note the time the behavior first happens.
  • Note the time the behavior ends.

3. Latency Recording

To correct negative behaviors and spark positive social change, clinicians may use cues or words to help encourage behaviors. Latency recording involves measuring the time that it takes for a behavior to occur after a verbal cue or an event. For example, you may want to know how long it takes a student to stop talking when you say “quiet down.” Similarly, you could record how long it takes a student to quiet down after you turn off the lights in the classroom.


This method is useful for measuring the impact of verbal cues and events. Let’s say that you’re measuring “quiet down” to help curb a negative social behavior in an extremely talkative child. You want to introduce a communication response that helps halt the behavior, teaching the child boundaries. In this case, knowing how long it takes a child to halt (or begin) behavior at that cue gives you insights into the long-term effectiveness of your strategy.

How to Use Latency Recording

  • Issue verbal cues or events.
  • Record how long it takes for the behavior to begin or end after the verbal cue or event has been issued.

4. ABC (Antecedent-Behaviour-Consequence) Data

We measure behaviors to create positive support plans. So sometimes, discovering the cause and effect of behaviors is important, as it helps clinicians and specialists better formulate these support plans. Unlike the above data methods, the ABC method relies on qualified data — not necessarily quantified. ABC data is measured by taking the antecedent (the events that occur before a behavior), the behavior, and the consequences of said behavior.


Remember, observers can only find correlations using ABC data. A hypothesis can certainly be (and usually is) drawn from ABC data. But the data in itself doesn’t prove any functional relationships between A, B, and C. This is a time-consuming data collection strategy that requires plenty of notations and a keen eye for behavioral triggers.

How to Use ABC Data

  • Prepare to study and watch a specific individual closely for long periods of time.
  • When the desired (for studying) behavior occurs, note what happened before (i.e., the trigger) the behavior, what the behavior was, and what the consequences of that behavior were.

5. Scatterplot Analysis

While ABC data can help you draw correlations between triggers and behaviors, scatterplots help you draw correlations between the time of day and behavior on a broader scale. For example, do you want to know if a student hits other children more frequently during art class? To figure that out, you would use a scatterplot.

Scatterplots start by segmenting time into small blocks. For instance, you may want to measure a specific behavior throughout the school day. To start, you would break the day down into 15-minute blocks. Then, you would mark a symbol into the block each time that behavior occurs. At the end of the day, you should be able to see time blocks where there are far more symbols, giving you an indication that the time of day during those blocks may be a trigger.

How to Use Scatterplot Analysis

  • Use a blank scatterplot analysis paper.
  • Mark a symbol in each time block as a behavior occurs.
  • Look at the scatterplot at the end of the day to formulate hypotheses for further testing.

6. Interval Recording

All of the data collection methods we’ve mentioned so far share one thing in common — they require constant attention. So what if you’re in a situation where you can’t constantly pay attention and record behaviors? In that case, interval recording can be a massive asset. In interval recording, the entire observation window is split up into blocks of time. Then the clinician observes whether or not a behavior occurs during that time frame.

There are a few variations on interval recording like whole-interval and partial-interval. The primary purpose of interval recording is time constraints. Since frequency/event, ABC, and scatterplots give you better overall insights into behavioral patterns, interval recording isn’t the strongest behavioral data collection method — but it is one of the easiest.

How to Use Interval Recording

  • Split up an observation window (e.g., 1 day) into smaller blocks of time (e.g., 1 minute every hour).
  • Record whether or not a behavior happens during that time.

7. Time Sampling

Another variation on interval recording is time sampling. This method is primarily used by clinicians who are focusing on large groups of in-need students. Time sampling involves splitting large chunks of time (e. g., every 20 minutes) into a bunch of smaller chunks of time (e.g., 1 minute every 20 minutes) and recording the presence or absence of a behavior within or at the end of the interval.

So, let’s say that you’re a clinician seeking to measure the behaviors of a large group of students during a group project. Time sampling allows you to monitor each child independently while also overseeing the entire group over a period of time. Like interval recording, time sampling is not the most robust data collection method, but it’s incredibly useful for specific situations.

How to Use Time Sampling

  • Set up a large interval and small intervals.
  • Every time the large interval passes, check behaviors for the time of the small interval.

Additional ABA Data Collection Methods

  • Permanent product
  • Rating scale data
  • Per Opportunity recording
  • Task analysis

Final Thoughts

Your ABA goals are dependent on data. You need a constant stream of incoming data to prove the effectiveness of your programs and discover new avenues of opportunity. With multiple unique data collection methods, clinician and professionals have plenty of options. Whether you need to leverage interval recording in a time-crunched classroom or ABC recording to hyper-focus on an individual student, there is a data collection method out there to help you accomplish your behavioral goals.

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Continuous vs Discontinuous Measurement in ABA – Master ABA

The field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) relies heavily on data to make informed treatment decisions. Professionals in the field must choose the data collection method that measures the right behavior. They analyze data to determine the effectiveness of interventions. If the data demonstrate progress, interventions continue. If the data reveal a trend in the wrong direction, the professional changes the intervention.

The right data collection system provides information needed to determine the effectiveness of programming. Choose either a continuous data collection method (frequency, rate, duration, or latency) or a discontinuous data collection method (partial interval, whole interval, or momentary time sampling). The right method provides accurate data that are sensitive to behavior change. Continuous methods provide the most accurate data, although they can be difficult to utilize in busy environments. Discontinuous methods offer an estimate of the occurrence of behavior, but can be used even when staff can’t attend to the learner’s behavior throughout the entire session.

Download this infographic to help you keep this information fresh!

ABA Data Collection InfographicDownload


Continuous Data Collection

Discontinuous Data Collection

Other Data Collection Methods

Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Type of Data Collection Method

5 Ways to Make Frequency Data Collection Easier and More Discrete

Choose Your Data Collection Method

Download Data Sheets

Related Posts

Continuous Data Collection

Continuous data collection methods measure every occurrence of a behavior. These methods either count each instance of the behavior or the specific amount of time a behavior occurs. These methods allow you to measure behavior along the basic dimensions and accurately detect change in the behavior. Choose a continuous method when programming requires a complete record of behavior. Several different systems provide continuous data.


Frequency provides a simple count of the behavior that occurs. Record the frequency of the behavior using tally marks, a clicker, or even small objects. Moving small beads from one pocket to another when a behavior occurs provides a simple way of discretely counting the occurrence of the behavior. Once the session ends, count the number of beads and enter that number onto your data sheet. Use frequency measurement when the behaviors:

  • Have a clear beginning and end
  • Occur at a rate that can accurately be counted

Frequency measures both desirable and undesirable behavior such as the number of times your client pees on the potty or throws toys. Simple frequency counts are easy for staff to collect; however, they don’t take into consideration how long each session is and can be misleading when session duration varies widely. For example, 10 instances of behavior occurring in a 30-minute session is quite different than 10 instances occurring during a 4-hour session.

Record frequency data using tally marks or use a clicker to count then record the total on a simple frequency data sheet. Download the simple frequency data sheet below to get started.

ABA Frequency Data Sheet

Frequency Data SheetDownload


Rate measurements level the playing field regarding session duration. They reflect the frequency of behavior that occurs over a period of time. This type of data provides you with more information than frequency data alone and typically is a more accurate representation of the behavior. To calculate rate, divide the frequency by the duration of the session (i.e. minutes or hours). Rate is expressed as a number per unit of time (i. e. 6 instances per hour or 12 instances per minute).

Use rate data when:

  • Session duration is inconsistent
  • You measure the behavior during some parts of the day but not others

As with other continuous data collection measures, rate data can be used to document behaviors targeted for increase or decrease. You may choose to use rate data to determine the number of times per hour your client mands for something he wants or engages in aggressive behaviors.

Record rate data in much the same way that you record frequency data, but specify the period of time the behavior occurred during (i.e. per minute, per hour, per day, etc.). Download the simple rate data sheet below to get started.

ABA Rate Data Sheet

Rate Data SheetDownload


Duration data measure how long a behavior lasts from beginning to end. When defining behaviors to be collected by duration recording, professionals must identify an onset and offset to ensure accurate measurement. A stopwatch or timer in a data collection app provides the most reliable duration data. Avoid estimating duration by expecting staff to look at a clock or watch to measure the time. Use duration recording when the behaviors:

  • Have ambiguous beginning and end
  • Last for an inconsistent period of time

Again, duration could measure both behaviors you want to increase as well as those you are looking to decrease. Amount of time spent engaging in imaginative play or in a tantrum are examples of behaviors you might measure using duration data.

Record duration data by noting the amount of time a behavior occurred during each occurrence. You can also calculate the frequency of the behavior by counting the number of times you recorded the duration. Download the simple duration data sheet below to get started.

ABA Duration Data Sheet

Duration Data SheetDownload


Latency measures the time between the discriminative stimuli (SD) and the response. This measure allows you to evaluate the speed of responding to a particular stimulus. For example, you may use latency data to increase the rate of responding during DTT (by decreasing latency) or you may use it to decrease the rate of responding prior to hearing the full SD during DTT (by increasing latency). Use latency data when:

  • Responses occur too slowly or too quickly following the SD

Latency measures provide highly specific information. To record latency, initiate the time on a stopwatch following the delivery of the SD and stop the time as soon as the learner begins to respond.

Record latency data by recording the SD and the amount of time it took the learner to begin the response. Download the simple latency data sheet below to get started.

ABA Latency Data Sheet

Latency Data Sheet Download

Learn more about continuous data collection:

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Discontinuous Data Collection

Discontinuous data collection systems measure only a sample of behavior that occurs by breaking the session down into small increments of time. Although these data are potentially less accurate than continuous data collection methods, they are easier to collect in busy environments. There is an inherent error in each method of discontinuous measurement (Fiske & Delmolino, 2012). When choosing a discontinuous measurement method, consider these errors carefully. The chart below describes these errors.

Discontinuous Measurement MethodType of ErrorUse for:
Partial Interval RecordingOverestimates the occurrence of behaviorBehavior decrease
Whole Interval RecordingUnderestimates the occurrence of behaviorBehavior increase
Momentary Time SamplingNeither overestimates nor underestimates the occurrence of behaviorHigh frequency, behavior increase
Comparison of the errors inherent in discontinuous measurement methods

Partial Interval

Partial interval data breaks the session into equal parts (intervals). Record if the behavior occurred at any point during that interval. Since the behavior only needs to occur once or for a small fraction of the interval, partial interval data overestimates the occurrence of behavior. Use partial interval recording when:

  • The behavior does not have a clear start and stop
  • The behavior occurs at such a high rate that it’s impractical to attempt to count each occurrence
  • An estimate of the frequency of the behavior is acceptable

Keep in mind that because partial interval data provides an overestimate of the occurrence of behavior, you want to use the smallest interval that is practical for your situation. The larger the interval, the more inflated the data. Often, due to the overestimation of this method, professionals use partial interval to document behaviors targeted for reduction. Examples of behaviors you might record using partial interval data include the occurrence of stereotypies or screaming across an entire day, if either behavior occurs at a high rate.

Because staff only need to attend to the behavior if it occurs, partial interval recording can be more efficient for busy staff to collect than monitoring for and counting each occurrence of a given behavior.

Whole Interval

Whole interval data again breaks the session into equal parts (intervals). Record if the behavior occurs throughout the whole interval. Since the behavior must occur for the entire amount of the interval, this method underestimates the occurrence of the target behavior. Use whole interval recording when:

  • The behavior occurs over long periods of time
  • It’s impractical to use duration recording in your setting
  • An overestimate of the behavior is acceptable

Because this method underestimates the occurrence of the behavior you want to use the smallest interval that is practical for your situation to ensure the most accurate reflection of the behavior. Often, due to the underestimation of the occurrence of the behavior, professionals use whole interval to document behaviors target for increase. This might include behaviors such as amount of time spent engaged in table work or functional play, assuming that these occur over significant periods of the child’s day.

Momentary Time-Sampling

Momentary time-sampling takes a quick snapshot of whether or not a behavior occurs. Identify an appropriate interval based on baseline data. When the interval is over, record whether or not the behavior is occurring at that time. This data collection method neither over nor underestimates the behavior; however, because not every instance of the behavior is recorded, the data are far less accurate than continuous data collection. Use momentary time-sampling when:

  • Other methods of data collection are impractical in your situation
  • You rely on someone else to collect the data who is unable to continuously monitor the behavior due to other responsibilities
  • It’s not necessary to ensure you get a complete recording of the behavior

Momentary time-sampling does not provide you with reliable data; however, busy professionals are able to collect data about behavior when they don’t have the ability to attend to the child for extended periods of time. Momentary time-sampling may provide sufficient information for behaviors such as working independently at school or playing alone at home.

Download Discontinuous Data Sheets

Interval data sheet

Data SheetsDownload

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Other Data Collection Methods

The above data collection methods provide the widest application for learning about the occurrence of an identified behavior. The list above meets most of the data collection needs of professionals in the field of ABA. Other methods capture information missed when using those methods. The below data collection systems are used less frequently and for more specific purposes than the methods listed above.

ABC Data Collection

ABC data is often a critical component when conducting a functional behavior assessment (FBA). This data collection method looks at what happens right before and right after the behavior you’re interested in. This allows for analysis of the context of the behavior to begin to determine a possible function. Although there are many ways to collect ABC data, one simple method is to create a form with checkboxes for commonly occurring antecedents, behaviors, and consequences. Not only does this make data collection simpler, but it also provides an easier method for analyzing these data.

ABC data sheet

For more information on ABC data, see our posts: ABC Data: The Key to Understanding Behavior and Functions of Behavior in ABA: Complete Guide.


A scatterplot provides information of the occurrence of behavior across different parts of the day, either time frames or activities. This method allows for a visual analysis to determine if patterns exist. The example below breaks the day into 1 hour blocks of time and then provides space to compare data across an entire week. This data sheet also provides space to document location. This allows you, at a glance, to see that the highest rate of behavior occurs from 7-8 pm at home. While it doesn’t give you a specific count of behavior, this information allows you to determine when you should look to collect that more specific data.

Scatterplot data sheet example

Blank Scatterplot TemplateDownload

Permanent Product

Permanent product data provides a way for the professional to evaluate the occurrence of behavior after it has stopped. With this method of data collection, the professional does not need to be available to observe the behavior as it occurs. Schools use a lot of permanent product data recording for this reason. A teacher is unable to observe each of her students as they work, but she can look at the permanent products they produce (i.e. worksheets, projects, videos, etc. ).


Probe data simply test to determine if a behavior occurs or does not occur in a given situation. In an effort to ensure that data collection does not interfere with teaching methods, a professional may choose to utilize a probe only data collection system for specific targets. If the professional chooses to do a probe prior to any teaching trials, we refer to this as a “cold probe.” Probe data allow for the professional to focus her attention on teaching methodology including errorless learning and prompt fading techniques. This data system is most beneficial when there are a limited number of individuals working with a client and who don’t rely on the data to know the correct prompt level to use during teaching.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Type of Data Collection Method

Each data collection method has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Consider these carefully before determining which system to use.

Continuous Data
~Most accurate
~Sensitive to small
changes in behavior
~Requires constant
~Difficult to use without
1:1 staff
Discontinuous Data
~Easier to use in a
busy environment
~Provides enough
information for
many situations
~Able to track very high
frequency behavior
~Only an estimate of
~Must consider over or
under estimation when
analyzing data
~May need more time to
see changes in behavior
Comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of continuous and discontinuous data collection methods

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5 Ways to Make Frequency Data Collection Easier and More Discrete

Identifying the obstacles to accurate data collection helps reveal creative solutions to over come them. While you may experience specific obstacles in your practice, two obstacles seem to occur across various types of ABA programs. Often staff have the most difficulty in accurate data collection when they need to collect frequency data for high frequency behaviors or when the act of collecting the data becomes reinforcing for the child.

High Frequency Behaviors

Many children with autism engage in a variety of maladaptive behaviors that occur at too high a rate. Often behavior change occurs gradually over time. In order to determine the effectiveness of a behavior reduction plan, the data that are collected must be accurate. Although frequency and rate data collection may not be the most practical method for collecting data for high frequency behaviors, it is the most sensitive to behavior change, provided that the data are accurate.

Data Collection Becomes Reinforcing

Many children with autism don’t pay attention to data being collected by a professional. Other children find any form of attention motivating. When these children associate their behavior with the behavior of staff, the result may be an increase in this behavior. Traditional data collection techniques require staff to distinctly make some type of mark or electronic record. These methods lack the subtlety needed for children attuned to staff behavior.

Data Collection Techniques

Here are 5 options for easier and more discrete data collection. Each of these techniques offers its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Try them and see what works best for you!

1. Clicker Counters

Clicker counters are a great tool for counting high frequency behaviors and can easily be used to calculate rate (just calculate frequency/time). These clickers are a great way to track a variety of behaviors that occur frequently. You simply assign each behavior a color and click when the behavior occurs. They include a hook that you attach to a carabiner so you can attach them to a pocket or belt loop. These are affordable and available on Amazon

. Their major disadvantage is the clicking sound that they make. Avoid these for children whose behavior is reinforced by staff collecting data.

Alternatively, digital finger counters provide the subtly you may need, but these counters can be sensitive and you risk counting behavior that doesn’t occur. If worn on a thumb, you may be less likely to accidentally hit the button. Again, these handy tools are inexpensive and easy to find on Amazon


2. Small Objects in Pockets

Check out this low-tech option for tracking the occurrence of behavior. Put a collection of small objects in one pocket. As behavior occurs, transfer the corresponding number from that pocket into the other pocket.

This method offers some subtlety for well trained staff. To optimize discretion, staff put their hand in their pocket and carefully scoop one item into their hand as behavior occurs. Once the child looks away, staff move the items from that pocket to the other. The more frequently the behavior occurs, the smaller the objects must be.

With this option, you risk accidentally dropping the items either back into the original pocket or on the floor when transferring them. In addition, you must count each item at the end of the session. While this creates additional work, it may be the best short-term option if you need a low-tech, discrete data collection method.

3. Beads on a Pipe Cleaner

Sliding beads on a pipe cleaner offers another low-tech option for frequency data collection. When done well, it appears as though staff are simply fidgeting with the beads or doing a craft while not attending to the child’s behavior. Staff can slide a group of beads onto the top of the pipe cleaner and as behavior occurs, slide the beads to the bottom.

While this option may be reinforcing for staff as it can offer a calming effect for some, children may pick up on the fact that each time behavior occurs, staff pick up the beads. There are 2 ways to combat this effect: rotate between different low-tech options or have staff play with the beads throughout the day when behavior does not occur.

4. Technology

Technology offers a broad array of options from simple to complex. Many apps provide access to different methods to tally behavior as it occurs. Some apps export or graph this data for you as well. A simpler option is to open a note taking app and add an emoji or other character each time the behavior occurs.

Similar to the small objects method, this method requires staff to count the occurrences at the end of the session. This method offers some other nice advantages for children who attend to staff behavior. Adults on technology (phones, tablets or computers) is so common place that it essentially becomes unnoticeable to many children. In addition, children who are motivated by technology may be unpleased to see that the adult has found her own entertainment while he engages in the behavior.

5. Small Elastics on Fingers

A final low-tech and inexpensive option is to place small elastics on your fingers (hair elastics intended for young children work well). Place spares on one hand and as behavior occurs, roll them over to the other hand. To the child, this may appear as simple fidgeting.

This method may be inefficient for behaviors that occur at a very high frequency. In addition, some staff may find them uncomfortable on their fingers. This system also requires staff to count each elastic at the end of the session. Despite these disadvantages, you may find that this method works best for your specific circumstances.

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Choose Your Data Collection Method

The data collection method you choose must produce accurate data, measure outcomes, and be sensitive to change in the behavior measured (Fiske & Delmolino, 2012). Many factors influence the accuracy of data collection, including the:

  • Operational definition
  • Training of interventionists
  • Type of data collection system selected

For more information about writing clear operational definitions, check out our course Writing Operational Definitions.

Research in Data Collection Methods

Several studies evaluate the use of the different data collection methods in research studies. Two studies evaluate this trend during different time periods. Kelly (1977) looked at the research published in The Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis from 1968-1975 and Mudford, Taylor, and Martin (2009). The results of their research are presented in the table below.

Time PeriodContinuous Data Collection MethodsDiscontinuous Data Collection Methods
Comparison of the use of continuous versus discontinuous data collection methods in the research

Across the 40 year span from the start of the first study to the end of the follow-up study, researchers balanced the use of continuous and discontinuous data collection methods. Although discontinuous data collection methods have their value, they fail to quantify the basic dimensions of behavior (Fiske & Delmolino, 2012). With the introduction of electronic data collection systems, continuous data measures are more practical and efficient than they were when only paper and pencil technology existed. Although this should lead to researchers relying more on continuous data collection measures, the studies reveal that it’s not necessarily the case.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Data Collection Method

When determining which data collection method fits your needs, you must consider many factors including:

  • Is the behavior potentially dangerous?
  • Does the behavior threaten the placement of the individual?
  • How frequently does the behavior typically occur?
  • Does the behavior occur over a period of time?
  • Does the behavior have a clear beginning and end?
  • Who will be collecting the data?
  • How long does the behavior usually last?
  • Is it a behavioral deficit or excess?

Fiske and Delmolino (2012) provided clear guidelines for choosing between a continuous and discontinuous data collection method. The table below is a description of their recommendations.

Continuous Data Collection MethodDiscontinuous Data Collection Method
Discrete behaviors with a clear onset and offsetAmbiguous breaks between the occurrence of the behavior
Interventionist can accurately record each instance The behavior occurs at a very high rate
Recording behaviors individuallyRecording multiple behaviors simultaneously
Interventionist responsible for 1 learnerInterventionist required to complete many tasks at once
When to choose a continuous or discontinuous data collection method

Serious, dangerous or severe behavior requires a system that provides accurate data. Strongly consider using continuous data collection when addressing these types of behavior. Behaviors that occur at an exceptionally high rate may require a discontinuous data collection method for accuracy. If you rely on parents or teachers to collect data, you should consider discontinuous methods. Taking all of these factors into consideration allows you to select the most effective and efficient data collection system for your ABA program.

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References and Further Reading

Fiske, K., & Delmolino, L. (2012). Use of discontinuous methods of data collection in behavioral intervention: Guidelines for practitioners. Behavior Analysis in Practice5(2), 77-81.

Kelly, M. B. (1977). A review of the observational data‐collection and reliability procedures reported in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis10(1), 97-101.

Mudford, O. C., Beale, I. L., & Singh, N. N. (1990). The representativeness of observational samples of different durations. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis23(3), 323-331.

Mudford, O. C., Taylor, S. A., & Martin, N. T. (2009). Continuous recording and interobserver agreement algorithms reported in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (1995–2005). Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis42(1), 165-169.

Repp, A. C., Roberts, D. M., Slack, D. J., Repp, C. F., & Berkler, M. S. (1976). A comparison of frequency, interval, and time‐sampling methods of data collection. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis9(4), 501-508.

ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis)

Today, one of the most effective methods of correcting autism is behavior therapy or ABA (Applied behavior analysis).

ABA Therapy is an intensive training program based on behavioral technologies and teaching methods. ABA as a scientific discipline studies the influence of factors in the environment on behavior and manipulates these factors in order to change human behavior.

The ABA method for working with children with autism was first used by Dr. Ivar Lovaas and colleagues at UCLA in 1963. The idea was taken as a basis that any behavior entails some consequences, and if the child likes the consequences, he will repeat this behavior, and if he does not like it, he will not.

With this approach, all complex skills, including speech, creative play, the ability to look into the eyes and others, are divided into small blocks - actions. Each action is learned with the child separately, then the actions are connected in a chain, forming a complex action. The adult does not try to give the initiative to the child, but quite rigidly manages his activities. Correct actions are fixed to automatism, wrong ones are strictly suppressed. To achieve the desired behavior, cues and incentives, both positive and negative, are used. A skill is considered fixed only when the child can perform this action without errors in 80 percent of situations, regardless of the atmosphere in which and by whom the task was given.

Within the framework of the ABA training program, the child is always led, his freedom and initiative are limited by the choice of the teaching adult. An individual development plan is drawn up for each child. A child can master two or three unrelated skills at the same time, the teacher builds a clear system of complication and gradual mastering of more and more new skills.

The ultimate goal of ABA is to give the child the means to explore the world around them on their own.

ABA has several hundred programs in its arsenal, including non-verbal and verbal imitation, general and fine motor skills, language understanding, naming objects, naming actions, classifying objects, "show how you are ...", pronouns, answers to questions "What? ", "Who?", "Where?", "When?", "How?", the use of "yes" and "no", and others. Among the higher-level programs are "Tell me what will happen if ..." (anticipates the outcome of the action), "Tell a story", "Do like (peer name)", "Call (peer name) to play."

There are several therapeutic models in ABA therapy, designed for early childhood (from 1.5-3.5 years), preschool and school age, adolescents and adults.

At an early age, the correction of undesirable behavior is most effective, since such behavior has not yet had time to consolidate, and it is easier for an adult to cope with a child in case of directed aggression or self-aggression of a child with autism.

The early intervention program should be intensive, 30 to 40 hours a week, so that the child can learn the necessary behavioral skills and overcome the developmental delay.

The ABA specialist first identifies the child's behavioral problem, then "measures" (studies and observes the behavior), which results in an assessment and development of a learning strategy ("intervention").

During the ABA training, several specialists of various specializations work with the child every day (a defectologist in behavioral skills, a music therapist, an art therapist), and the supervision is carried out by a supervisor - a specialist in the methodology. Specialists consistently work with the child for two to three hours (doing five to six programs during this time), two or three specialists can consistently work with the child during one day, and the child receives five to six hours a day. All actions on the programs are recorded in the general journal of work with the child, coordinating the actions of specialists.

ABA can be done at home, in an educational institution, in a children's club. Classes can be individual and group - in small groups (two or three people) and large (five to ten people).

The number of hours in the study program may vary depending on the needs and possibilities. The average number of hours in the ABA program is 20 hours per week. The minimum number of hours in an ABA program is six hours per week, the maximum is 40.

It is important that the child's parents be an integral part of the child's team, educate the child on the basis of behavioral learning principles and help him generalize all the skills he has learned in program.

For children of preschool age, regardless of the level of development of skills, training in the system of special education is recommended. Homeschooling can be a limited environment in which a child cannot learn important skills such as being in a peer group, learning in a group, interacting with different people.

Part of the learning may remain individualized, especially for children with low language skills or for children who have not been previously trained and have not learned how to interact with adults.

Despite the rigor of the training program, the ABA methodology is suitable for severe forms of autism, Down's syndrome and severe forms of intellectual disability.

The choice of this particular technique is justified if the child’s behavior is not controlled by relatives, he does not respond to requests and prohibitions, does not respond to a name, does not strive for communication, does not have speech, or speech is so poorly developed that the child can hardly (or cannot) express their thoughts and desires.

The material was prepared on the basis of information from open sources

ABA as a profession ~ Autism | ABA

Autism and ABA are Siamese twin brothers. So, at least, thinks the majority of the population of the planet, in any way connected with autism. Except for a small group of behavior analysts who manage to separate applied behavior analysis as a science, perception and way of thinking from the application of training programs based on the basic principles of ABA for teaching children with autism . And, as funny as it sounds, 90% of these analysts do exactly what they do, that they teach children with autism.

So what is ABA? ABA is a scientific approach that continually looks for relationships between behavior and factors in the environment, and manipulates those factors experimentally in order to change behavior. For the ABA, it is absolutely not important what this or that behavior is called - "echolalia", "hallucinations", "symptom of autism", or something else. The main thing is that the behavior exists - it can be measured (frequency, duration, latency), described, and what factors cause and strengthen it. After that try to change these factors and see what happens. Interesting, isn't it?

And going back to autism - why is the behavioral approach recognized as the most effective treatment? Because learning happens on an individual basis. All people are different, all children with autism are different, each of the children has their own characteristic behaviors and their own characteristic environment, and if you focus on a specific behavior, identify those factors that influence and control this behavior, then you can change it more effectively than trying to explain words, scold or give a pill.

But in ABA there is one "chip" that misleads the population - "

Behavioral technologies

". This is not using a computer or iPhone to record data. This is an opportunity to teach people who have no idea about the basic principles of learning, and perceive candy as "positive reinforcement" and yelling at a child as "negative reinforcement", how to correctly and effectively apply behavioral principles for learning. To hell with him, let them think that screaming is something negative, the main thing is that they do not do this when they do not need to, but clearly follow instructions and act in a certain way at the right time. In other words, even people who do not know how to analyze the relationships between behavior and the environment can apply behavioral methods in practice. Therefore, many who successfully apply behavioral technologies such as initial skills testing (ABLLS, VB-MAPP), training programs from books by Lovaas, Morris , and others, may erroneously perceive their work as behavioral analysis.

The BEHAVIOR ANALYST CERTIFICATION BOARD has set professional standards for those who consider themselves behavior analysts. Here is a free translation of this Task List (source is here):

ABA Professional Standards

(4th edition)

Responsibilities towards the client

1. Problem definition .


View records and available information (including patient ID, referral for examination, nature of client referral problem, behavior rating scales, questionnaires and surveys).


Consideration of biological factors that may influence client behavior.


Conduct a preliminary assessment of the client's behavior to identify a behavioral problem.


Explanation of behavioral concepts using ordinary speech revolutions

A-05 9000

Description and explanation ) terms.


Provision of behavioral analysis services in collaboration with other professionals involved in the client's care.


Practice within professional competence in applied behavior analysis, and receive advice, supervision, training, or referral of the client to another specialist.


Changing environmental conditions that will reduce the need for behavioral analysis services in the future.

2. Measurements .


Selection of a measurement system to obtain indicative data based on measurements of behavior and logistics of observation and recording.


Selection of observation frequency and data recording periods.


Select a data display that effectively represents quantitative relationships.


Evaluation of changes in level, direction and

data variability


Estimation of temporal relationships between observed variables (in and between sessions, series of time blocks).

3. Evaluation

Define behavior in specific terms.

Define environmental factors in specific terms.


Development of individual behavior assessment procedures.


Develop ways to measure existing between factors in the environment and behavior.


Development of evaluation methods that modify antecedents.


Development of evaluation methods that change consequences.


Develop evaluation methods that modify antecedents and consequences.


Organization, analysis and interpretation of observations.


Provide advice on behavior to be established, strengthened, strengthened or weakened.


Recognition of motivators (observation, evaluation of preferences or choices)


Repeat assessment based on ongoing monitoring of progress.


4. Interference


A statement of the desired outcomes of a therapeutic intervention in observable and measurable terms.


Selection of potential therapeutic strategies based on evaluation results and on the most accurate studies in the literature.

Making recommendations and choosing intervention strategies based on:


Social significance


The designation and adoption of practical and ethical considerations during the use of the type of experiment to demonstrate the effectiveness of treatment.


Selecting an acceptable alternative behavior if the unwanted behavior is reduced.


Preparation for generalization of stimuli and responses



Selecting the peak of the desired behavior as the target of the intervention.


Establish learning procedures to promote productive learning.


Interpretation and decision making based on information presented in different formats.

5. implementation, administration and supervision


maintaining the behavioral service documentation.


Identification of the conditions leading the behavior from the conditions responsible for the application of procedures for behavior change and types of intervention, respectively.


Development and use of competent training for those responsible for behavioral assessment and application of behavioral procedures.


Development and use of performance monitoring and reward systems.


Development and use of systems for tracking procedural integrity.


Providing supervision for those performing behavioral procedures.


Evaluation of program effectiveness.


Establishment of support for the behavior analysis service with the help of persons connected directly or not connected with this service.


Enlist the support of others to support the client's behavior in the natural environment.


Arranging an organized termination of service in case of no need.

Behavioral Analyst Basic Skills






9000 M-08ITS


Evaluation of accuracy and reliability of measurement procedures


Development, planning and interpretation of data using equal interval plots.


Development, planning and interpretation of data using cumulative data recording.


Development and application of intermittent observation methods (e.g. partial & whole interval, instantaneous time trials)

M -3

Development and application of electoral measurements

M -4

Development and application Development and application of event recording

Experiment design / construction


Use of Applied Behavior Analysis characteristics (Baer, ​​Wolff, and Risley, 1968) to evaluate an intervention and designate it as behavioral.


Review of relevant literature and interpretation of articles from the behavioral analytic literature.


Systematic manipulation of independent factors to demonstrate influence on dependent factors.


Use of the reverse view of the experiment


Use of the reverse type of experiment

9000 9000 X- experiment


Using the type of experiment with changing criteria


Using a multiprary experiment


Use of the experiment of numerous samples

9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 combinations of different types of experiment.


Application of component analysis (determining the effective components of an intervention)

Application of the analysis of parameters (determination of effective consequences parameters, for example, duration or value)

9000 9000 9000 9009 9009

Identifying and preparing for possible unwanted behavioral effects.


Identification and preparation for possible adverse effects of behavior reduction/punishment.


Identification and preparation for possible unwanted effects of stopping behavioral reinforcement.

9009 9009 9009 9009 9009 9009 9009 9009 9009 9009


Basic elements of behavior change0092

Use of positive and negative amplification


Use of suitable parameters and amplification schedules


Contacting prompts of prompts of advice


Using Modeling and Simulation


Using the formation of the reaction


Using chains of behaviors

9000. 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000


Using individual blocks and learning free actions


The use of verbal actions as a basis for assessing speech skills.


Echoic control stimulus



9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 2


Use of intravenbal training


Use of training for the listener

TE-15 9000 9000 9000 9009 9009 9 -16

Recognition and use of punishments


Use of suitable parameters and punishment schedules


Using the Strength of Strength

TE -9

Use of amplification combination, and Strengthen.


Use of reaction-independent amplification schedules (on a time basis)


Using the distinction of stimuli


Use of Rules

TP-04 9000 9000 9000



Use of independent, interdependent and dependent group contracts


Using the Primack principle.


Use of stimulus compatibility procedures to establish new conditional enhancers (people, tokens, prizes, activities).


Use of error free learning procedures



Use of direct learning


Use of accurate learning

Use of random learning techniques


Use of functional communication training procedures


Use of additional communication systems

93 9002 Opestan.

9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000

Explain and act in accordance with the philosophical principles of behavior analysis:




Ecological explanations of behavior (as opposed to mentality)

9000 F-08 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 F-08 , methodological behaviorism and structuralism


The difference between conceptual behavior analysis, experimental behavior analysis, applied behavior analysis, and behavioral technologies.


Respondant Relations (US, UR)


Respondant determination (CS, CR)

9000 F -5


Respondant-operating interaction

Isitated amplification


Automatic conditions (determining in the absence of pre-designed conditions)

F-24 9000

Control of stimuli

Multiple effects of a single stimulus


Unconditioned motivational operations


Conducted motivational operations


Transitive, and surrogate motivational operations.


The difference between a certain stimulus and motivational operations

F-30 9000

The difference between motivational operations and amplification effects


The difference in measured behavior measurements (frequency, duration, latency, and time between responses).


Assessment of level changes, direction and

data constancy

Assessment of temporary relations (within and between sessions, time series).

The daily professional practice of a behavior analyst is based on these standards -

without exception

. Especially those who are officially certified by an international commission. Only by basing one's practice on these standards can one be sure that professional practice will not harm the client, and that the likelihood of applying effective methods is increased.

How to become a professional in ABA?

Details can be found on the website: www.bacb.com

Briefly, the matter is as follows. In order to get a certificate from an international commission, you just need to pass a certification exam (in English). The certification standard has two levels - BCBA and BCBA. BCBA requires a more complex level of preparation, and the exam is correspondingly more difficult.

What do you need to get access to the exam?


1. First degree

2. 135 hours of theoretical courses

3. 500-1000 hours of practice supervised by an experienced certified analyst who already has a BCBA certificate.


1. Second academic degree.

2. 225 hours of theoretical courses.

3. 600 - 1500 hours of practice supervised by an experienced Certified Analyst who is already BCBA certified.

Details on which schools teach courses to prepare for certification, how many hours of practice are required, what field a degree is in, and where to find an experienced certified analyst who already has a BCBA certification - everything is written here: www.bacb .com

It is important to note that starting from 2015, the professional requirements will become more complex, and additional hours of training and practice will be required from "entrants".

But these are not all.

Learn more