ABC’s of ABA

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is well documented as an effective treatment for individuals with autism. For parents and professionals new to ABA, acronyms and technical terminology may seem foreign. Below is a list to decipher some of the terms used in the field of ABA.

AAC: Augmentative and Alternative Communication
ABA: Applied Behavior Analysis
ABC: Autism Behavior Checklist – a diagnostic tool
ABI: Adaptive Behavior Inventory
ABLLS: Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills test
ACA: Affordable Care Act
ADA: Americans with Disabilities Act
ADD: Attention Deficit Disorder
ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
ADI: Autism Diagnostic Interview
ADOS: Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale
ASD: Autism Spectrum Disorder
ASL: American Sign Language
BCaBA: Board Certified Associate Behavior Analyst
BCAT: Board Certified Autism Technician
BCBA: Board Certified Associate Behavior Analyst
BIP: Behavior Intervention Plan
CARS: Childhood Autism Rating Scale
CBCL: Achenbach Childhood Behavior Checklist – a diagnostic tool
CBT: Certified Behavior Technician
CE: Continuing Education
CHAT: Checklist for Autism in Toddlers – a diagnostic tool
DD: Developmental Disabilities
DTT: Discrete Trial Training
EIBI: Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention
EO: Establishing Operation
FAPE: Free Appropriate Public Education
FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
FBA: Functional Behavioral Assessment
FCT: Functional Communication Training
GARS: Gilliam Autism Rating Scale
HIPAA: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
ICD-9: International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems which classifies diseases by numbers
IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
IEP: Individualized Education Program
IOA: Interobserver Agreement
IFSP: Individualized Family Service Plan
INS: Insurance
LBA: Licensed Behavior Analyst
LABA: Licensed Assistant Behavior Analyst
LD: Learning Disabled
LEA: Licensed Education Agency
LRE: Least Restrictive Environment
NET: Natural Environment Training
NOS: Not Otherwise Specified
OCD: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
ODD: Oppositional Defiant Disorder
OT: Occupational Therapist
PDD: Pervasive Developmental Disorder
PDDBI: Pervasive Developmental Disorder Behavior Inventory
PDD NOS: Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
PECS: Picture Exchange Communication System
PHI: Protected Health Information
PICA: Means the eating of non-food items
PRT: Pivotal Response Training
PT: Physical Therapy
QASP-S – Qualified Autism Service Practitioner – Supervisor
RBT: Registered Behavior Technician
SIB: Self-Injurious Behavior
SLP: Speech and Language Pathologist
SLP-A: Speech and Language Pathologist Assistant
VB: Verbal Behavior


ABA- Applied Behavior Analysis is an effective evidence-based practice used to maximize children with Autism Spectrum Disorders ability to function independently.

DTT- Discrete Trial Training teaches clients complex skills in several steps. DTT is primarily done at the table where materials are presented to learners. DTT is a structured teaching environment and developed skills are mixed with skills that learners are currently learning.

FCT – Functional Communication Training the process of teaching meaningful and functional communication in a natural way to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disorders. Functional communication training is largely used to help ABA practitioners teach children with ASD replace difficult behaviors with suitable communication that is socially acceptable.

NET- Natural Environment Teaching is not as structured as Discrete Trial Training and is focused on the interests of the child within their natural environment.

PRT – Pivotal Response Training is a naturalistic behavioral intervention developed to facilitate stimulus and response generalization, increase spontaneity, reduce prompt dependency, and increase motivation while still relying on the principles of applied behavior analysis.

RDIRelationship Development Intervention is a family-based, behavioral treatment which address the core symptoms of autism. It focuses on building social and emotional skills.

RIT – Reciprocal Imitation Training is a naturalistic behavioral intervention that teaches imitation to children with autism spectrum disorder within a social-communicative context. It was developed to teach spontaneous imitation skills in a play environment. RIT is designed to encourage mutual or reciprocal imitation of play actions between a therapist/parent and child.

VB – Verbal Behavior Training focuses on motivating the learner to use language by connecting words with their purposes and creating opportunities to use words. The goal is to teach the learner that using words appropriately helps them obtain needed and desired objects, people, and activities, make meaningful comments, and reciprocally communicate rather than simply labeling objects.

Phillip Christian, RBT/CBT
Ethics & Safety Committee Member
BCBA Student