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The ABA Dictionary

One Stop Source for all your ABA lingo. 


Stands for Applied Behavioral Analysis. It's a field of study dedicated to understanding, and modifying behavior. ABA Therapy is known to improve language, communication, and social skills. It also helps reduce problematic behaviors, alongside a long list of other benefits. ABA is the best treatment course for children diagnosed with autism.


Refers to any kind of skills or action. Not just misbehavior.


Refers to all physical and social factors that might change, or be changed, by a person's behavior.

Discrete Trial Learning

Refers to a structured ABA technique that "breaks down skills into smaller, more discrete components." Specialist works with child in 1:1 setting in which good behavior is reinforced, and encouraged, with something tangible. 

Natural Environment Training

Refers to ABA technique that ties real-life meaning to the skills being taught. Teaches child in natural setting and uses naturally occuring scenarios as an oppurtnity to teach and reinforce behavior.

Verbal Behavior

Similar to discrete training. Specialist, in an intensive 1:1 therapy session, emphasizes language development by tying word with associated meaning. ("What is this? a spoon" all while showing the child what a spoon looks like, what it's used for etc.)

Pivotal Response Training

Refers to a "naturalistic, loosely structured, intervention that relies on naturally occurring teaching opportunities and consequences." Prioritizes things like taking turns, reinforcing attempts, and child choice. 

Natural Language Paradigm

Refers to the understanding that language can be prompted by creating scenarios. It prioritizes the child's initiative. Rather than rewarding a child for saying "goodbye" in a nonrelevant context, instead you might not let the child leave a room until they say goodbye. This provides additional context to the word and makes it more likely that the child will say it next time they leave a room. 

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