In order to determine why a behavior is occurring you need to take some baseline data. The main type of data taken to figure out function is called ABC data. Antecedent = what happened before, Behavior and Consequence = what happened after. Identifying the antecedents and consequences for a behavior will help clue you into why the behavior is occurring.

ABC data is not easy to take. You are in a busy classroom. Behaviors don’t occur nicely and discretely as one simple occurrence. Antecedents and consequences can easily overlap. The consequence for one behavior can also be the antecedent for the next. Confused? Hang in there. It get easier.

So basically – when taking ABC data you are going to write down what the individual says and does, use abbreviations as much as possible since you may be writing a lot, don’t write down interpretations, include time (what time the behavior happened, how long) if possible, include how many behaviors occurred together, and note other important things that happened that day – did you have gym? something specific for lunch? did the child take the bus instead of mom or dad driving them?

That’s a lot of information. There are some ways we can make this process simpler. If that doesn’t sound doable to you – don’t worry! That doesn’t sound doable to me either.

How to Make ABC Data More Efficient

  • create data sheets where you can just check or circle options
  • don’t take data all day!
    • Pick a few time periods throughout the day.
    • (ie. from 9-9:30, 12- 12:45 and 1:30-2 and record during those times the next day do the opposite time periods)
  • use staff to take data

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Here are some examples of ABC data sheets that are easy breezy:

Super detailed: ABC data sheet

Another detailed on: ABC data sheet

Pretty Basic: ABC data sheet  – For this sheet, you could write in consequences or antecedents that frequently happen. For example, under consequences, if usually kids talk back to student, teacher reprimands, or student is ignore you could write abbreviations for each and write them in each box under consquence. Then photocopy the page you wrote on and then when you are taking data you can just circle the consequence that occurred.

Another basic: ABC data sheet

One more: ABC data sheet

Lots of similar behaviors: ABC data sheet I use this one a ton! For a child that has many similar behaviors – such as hitting, biting, kicking, throwing items, etc. you can take data for all behaviors on one form. Write the behaviors in the top row in the gray boxes.

Here are some cool checklists: ABC checklist

Another checklist: ABC Checklist – this looks super complicated but if you found several options that happened frequently you could highlight them and then this could be very quick to fill out in-situ.

I recommend finding what works for you and is easiest. My motto: if it’s not easy and too complicated – you won’t do it! Figure out a system that you will use.

The Autism Helper - Reducing Problem Behavior

This post is part of Summer Series: Reducing Problem Behavior. Click here to see more in this series!

The Autism Helper - Summer Series


Sasha Long
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