Pediatric ABA Therapy Terms; E-K

Early Intervention
Individualized services for infants and toddlers who are at risk for or are showing signs of developmental delay.

The repetition of speech that is produced by others (a relatively common symptom of autism). Echoed words or phrases can include the same words and inflections as were originally heard or they may be somewhat modified. Immediate echolalia refers to words immediately repeated or repeated a brief time after they were heard. Delayed echolalia refers to the repetition of speech much later – even after days or years.

Environmental Modifications
Environmental modifications are not direct instructions, but are therapeutic adaptations that are intended to reduce barriers to instruction.


Sometimes called a seizure disorder. Epilepsy is a condition characterized by recurrent seizures that are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Seizures can occur for many reasons, including damage to the brain due to infection, injury, birth trauma, tumor, stroke, drug intoxication and chemical imbalance. Epilepsy is usually treated with anti-epileptic drugs. It is estimated that about one-third of individuals with autism have seizures at some time during their lifetime. Also see Seizure.

Test or observations used to assess a child’s strengths and weaknesses. A child must undergo a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary evaluation before they can receive special education services (aka “assessment”).

Experimental (Functional) Analysis
A type of functional assessment in which the effects of various consequences are experimentally tested on the behavior.

Expressive Language
The ability to communicate thoughts and feelings by gesture, sign language, verbalization, or written word. Compare to Receptive Language.

Extended School Year

Special education and related services provided beyond the normal school year, in accordance with the child’s IEP and at no cost to the parents.

Eliminating or decreasing a behavior by removing reinforcement from it.

Eye Gaze
A nonverbal form of communication. The act of looking at another individual’s face to see what they are looking at and then signal interest in interacting.

An ABA technique that involves gradually removing any extra help, hints or prompts used to teach a skill until the child can do it all by himself.

Family Training

Services provided to the family by qualified personnel to assist in understanding the needs of the child and helping the child’s development.

Fine Motor Skills
These are the activities that require the coordination and movement of the smaller muscles of the body, especially those of the hand.

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)

A government mandate that requires school districts to provide education and services that are free of cost and appropriate for all children, regardless of the child’s abilities.

The number of times a behavior occurs. Frequency is the dimension of measurement one should select when you want to answer the question “How many times”.

Frequency of Behavior

The number of instances of a behavior that occurs in a given period of time. (Also called rate of behavior)

Functional Play
The appropriate use of objects in play

Functional Assessment of Behavior
It is similar to the functional analysis of behavior, but it differs in that those events before and after the behavior are not systematically changed in order to prove the function of the behavior. Based on the information gathered a judgment is made about the possible communicative function of the behavior(s). Functional Assessments are usually performed in order to develop behavior interventions and supports that address challenging or inappropriate behaviors. See Behavioral Assessment and Functional Behavior Analysis.

Functional Intervention
A behavioral intervention that addresses the reinforcer or purpose of a problem behavior.

Functional Behavior Analysis

The process of systematically determining the function of behaviors, usually inappropriate, that are displayed by people. Behaviors are defined, measured and analyzed in terms of what happened before and after their occurrence. Over time the events before and after the behavior occurs are systematically changed in order to determine the function of the behavior for the person displaying
it. Sometimes an inappropriate behavior can have a communicative function. A temper tantrum can sometimes be communicating “I am upset”, or “I am bored”. Sometimes a functional analysis of behavior is conducted for research purposes, but it can also be performed in order to develop behavior interventions and supports that address the display of challenging or inappropriate behavior. See Functional Assessment of Behavior.

Functional Relationship
A relationship in which one variable changes systematically according to the value of another. Often events tend to co-vary, or change at the same time and seemingly be related in ways that they are not.

The ability to take a skill learned in one setting, such as the classroom, and use it in another setting like the home or community.

Gestural Communication
Gestures like pointing or waving, eye contact, facial expressions and other body language cues that is used to communicate a response.

Gross Motor Skills

These are the activities we do using our larger muscle groups; like sitting, walking & jumping.

Hand-Over-Hand Guidance
Physically guiding an individual through the movements involved in a fine motor task. Helping someone to grasp a spoon and bring it to his or her mouth is an example of hand-over-hand guidance.

Head Banging
A form of self-stimulation in which the child repetitively bangs head on the floor or another surface. Refer to Self-Stimulation and Self-Injurious Behavior.

A prefix meaning above, elevated or excessive. Opposite of Hypo.


Abnormally increased motor activity, resulting in difficulty with concentrating on one task or sitting still. Due to their overactivity and impulsivity, children who are hyperactive often have difficulty with learning, even if they score in the normal range on IQ tests. Hyperactivity can occur with attention deficit disorder, mental retardation, seizure disorder, sensory deficit disorders (such as hearing impairment) or other central nervous system damage. Also known as hyperkinetic.

Abnormal sensitivity to sensory input. Many children with ASD are extremely sensitive to commonplace sounds, sights, tastes, touch, and/or smells.

Prefix for under, beneath, down or less than normal. Opposite of Hyper.

Incidental Teaching
This involves child-directed activities. The instructor observes and interacts with the child and uses any naturally occurring opportunities to provide relevant instruction (e.g., the child indicates that he wants a drink by pointing to the refrigerator, and the instructor models the correct language).

The general concept of including people with disabilities in all aspects of life, such as (but not limited to) education, community living, employment and recreation. See Least Restrictive Environment.

Individualized Education Program (IEP)
A written statement of a child’s current level of development (abilities and impairments) and an individualized plan of instruction, including the goals, the specific services to be received, the people who will carry out the services, the standards and timelines for evaluating progress, and the amount and degree to which the child will participate with nonhandicapped peers at school. The IEP is developed by the child’s parents and the professionals who evaluated the child. It is required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for all children in special education, age’s three years and up.

Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)

A written plan describing the infant’s current level of development; the family’s strengths and needs related to enhancement of the infant’s or toddler’s development; goals for the infant and the other family members (as applicable), including the criteria, procedures and timelines used to evaluate progress (the IFSP should be evaluated and adjusted at least once a year and reviewed at least every six months); and the specific early intervention services needed to meet the goals (including the frequency and intensity and method of delivering services, the projected date of initiating services and the anticipated duration of services). The IFSP is developed and implemented by the child’s parents and a multidisciplinary early intervention team (IFSP Team). The name of the person > responsible for implementation of the IFSP, the case manager, should be listed on the IFSP. If it is likely at age three that the child will require special education services, a transition plan should also be stated in the IFSP. The Individualized Family Service Plan is required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for all infants receiving early intervention services. Refer to Early Intervention.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
A federal law passed in 1997 that reauthorizes and amends the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (Public Law 94-142). Part C of the law focuses on services to infants and toddlers who are at-risk or have developmental disabilities.

This is a verbal operant that is under the control of another person’s verbal behavior (e.g., saying “I’m fine,” when someone asks, “How are you?”). Examples include answers to questions and conversational exchanges.

Joint Attention
This is an early-developing social-communicative skill. Joint attention occurs when two people share interest in an object or event and there is an understanding between the two people that they are both interested in the same object or event.

Joint Stimulus Control
This refers to selection responses that occur under the control of two verbal operants; a self-echoic and tact.

Knowledge of Results

A kind of feedback that involves verbal, given during human performance in various tasks (e.g., verbal learning, motor skills, etc.)

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