Data {Applied Behavior Analysis}

Categories: Data | Resources

I have secretly been looking forward to this week. Maybe it’s not a secret. You all know I looooove data. I know – I am such a nerd. I blame my new and shiny Applied Behavior Analysis Master’s degree for my data obsession. Yes, it’s an obsession. And guess what? It’s contagious. So stick around and maybe you’ll catch too. To really get all ABA on you – I think my love of data comes from getting that positive reinforcement of really seeing my students’ progress. It’s one thing to think your students are improving but it’s something different to see the numbers go up and the chart line get higher. Makes me feel good about myself. Makes me feel good about the interventions and teaching techniques we are doing. It gives me some validation. And in a profession that (let’s face it…) is often very thankless – I’ll take any validation I can get.

We are going through the Seven Steps for Setting Up a Stellar Autism Room in the Summer of the Seven Steps! Data is Step 5. Here is our weekly agenda:

  1. Data and ABA
  2. Academic Data
  3. Behavior Data
  4. Making Data Sheets & Charting
  5. Tips and Products

The true foundation of any data system are the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. Whether you realize it or not – ABA creeps it’s way into any and all data collection procedures. And of course it should – ABA is the science and study of human behavior. And what are we taking data on? Human behavior of course!

Here is a thorough post of the ABC’s of ABA. We work in an alphabet soup so here is your cheat sheet for some of the lingo:

The Autism Helper - Data

Everything everyone does results in some type of reinforcement or some reason why you do it. A key component of ABA is figuring out what these reinforcers are and manipulating them to cause change.
  • Determine what motivates the individual. What is the child getting out of doing this? Attention from others? Access to toys? Avoid something they don’t want to do?
  •  Manipulate the environment or setting. Maybe you don’t go down the candy aisle to avoid an issue. If a student becomes upset with sudden transitions, remove sudden transitions or plan for them. If a child always forgets his homework, add a visual prompt into his schedule.
  • Change the reinforcers that are keeping bad behavior going. Don’t give the crying kid candy, the sassy teenager attention, or the whining child an iPad – it’s a sure fire to ensure that individual will act that way again when they want something. Would you keep clicking the facebook button on your iPhone if it never brought you to facebook? No – eventually you would stop.
  • Develop more appropriate alternative behaviors. The kid will still want candy. Some children (especially those with autism) need to be taught how to ask for something appropriately. Is your student hitting other students to get out of work? Teaching him how to ask for a break could eliminate that behavior. Is the only way your student with autism gets attention is when he bites himself? Teach him how to request attention.
The key to ABA is consistent data collection. Through consistent data collection you will know if your interventions have actually worked and how much they worked. It won’t be one of those ‘I think it seems better things’ it will actually be better.
The Autism Helper - Data
We use the theories of ABA to teach our students new skills and reduce problem behavior. We use data collection to utilize the theories of ABA. Ie. data collection = teaching new skills and reducing problem behavior! Plus it’s part of our job to clearly show student progress!
Seven Steps for Setting Up a Stellar Autism Room


  1. Oh can’t wait till making data sheets and charting!!!!

  2. Glad I’m not the only data geek 🙂


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *