Acronyms Galore!

Professionals often find themselves using several acronyms when speaking with parents. Often this can cause confusion on the parents’ end unless they have been receiving quality and intensive behavior services. 

We have selected some of the most common acronyms you might hear from your Behavior Analyst or ABA therapist and describe their meaning here:

  • AAC- Augmentative and Alternative Communication: This is a general term referring to any alternative mode of communication like pictures, signs, or devices with speech-output. 
  • ABA – Applied Behavior Analysis: This is an evidence-based procedure that can be used with anything and anyone!         
  • ABC- Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence:  This is the term used for the 3-term contingency- how we determine what the pattern of behavior looks like- what is happening before the behavior (antecedent) and what happens after the behavior (consequence). 
  • BCaBA – Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst: A person holding this certification has a Bachelors degree, completed specialized coursework in behavior analysis and received supervision from a BCBA (see below). In addition, they have taken a certification exam! NOTE: a BcABA can NOT program and supervise cases. You must refer to a BCBA for this. 
  • BCBA – Board Certified Behavior Analyst: This person will hold a Masters degree in various related subjects (Special Education, ABA, Social Work, etc) but has taken a set list of additional behavior analytic courses and received over 1500 hours of supervised experience in the field. A BCBA should oversee programming for a child. 
  • BIP- Behavior Intervention Plan: This is the plan that is drafted for problematic or maladaptive behaviors such as aggression, self-injury, etc. These plans can change over time and should be drafted after a thorough assessment of the problem behaviors. These plans should include antecedent and consequence procedures. This is also sometimes known as a the Behavior Support Plan (BSP) or Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS)
  • BT – This is a vague term that can refer to a Behavior Therapist, Behavior Technician, Behavior Tutor, etc. 
  • CCC-SLP – Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech Language Pathology: This person is a specialist for Speech and Language Disorders. Always refer to someone with this credential if you are concerned with specific speech disorders
  • DTT- Discrete Trial Training: This is a type of teaching method that breaks down a larger skill into small attainable goals. 
  • FBA- Functional Behavior Assessment:  This is a form of assessment conducted to determine the reason a problem behavior occurs (the function of a behavior). 
  • FCT- Functional Communication Training: This is a type of procedure used in ABA to teach alternative responses to receive the same type of reinforcement. 
  • IBI – Intensive behavioral intervention:  This type of intervention includes intensive hours and programming usually between 30-40 hours per week of ABA.
  • IEP- Individualized Education Plan:  This is a legal document that requires the school district to provide for specific programs for the child who is identified with a disability.
  • IFSP- Individualized Family Service Plan: This is a legal document for services for a child with a diagnosed disability (under 3 years of age) and their family.  
  • MA, MS – Master of Arts or Master of Science
  • MEd – Master of Education
  • MFT – Marriage and Family Therapist: This person is someone who has training with psychotherapy and other forms of therapy for mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. 
  • NCR- Non-contingent Reinforcement: This refers to a procedure where a person delivers a reinforcer based on a time schedule rather than based on a behavior observed. 
  • NET- Natural Environment Teaching:  This is a type of procedure used in ABA to teach skills in the child’s natural environment. Specific types of prompts and procedures are outlined for NET programs. 
  • PBS- Positive Behavior Supports 
  • PhD – Doctor of Philosophy: This person has completed in-depth coursework and research on a specific topic in their field of study. These programs can last anywhere from 3-10 years. Most will complete a dissertation where they have studied a specific research question in their field. 
  • RBT- Registered Behavior Technician: This person has completed a 40-hour coursework in addition to passing field assessments and an exam with the board. RBT’s are supervised closely by BCBA’s after they become certified. 
  • SIB- Self-Injurious Behavior: This refers to any form of behavior where a person causes injury to themselves. 
  • VB – Verbal Behavior:  This is a type of procedure used in ABA to teach functional language based on imitating, requesting, commenting, and responding. 

Token Boards and Behavior Charts Just Don’t work! I’ve tried them…

When you Google “Token Boards” you are bound to come across over 100 million search results. There are several blogs, stimuli, and information on token boards and behavior charts. Almost all these resources recommend the use of token boards…so why do parents and teachers often say that “behavior charts” or “token boards” just don’t work with their child/student. 

Lets take a look at a few questions to ask before starting a token board with your child/student:

1. Does the child have the ability to wait for reinforcement?

For example, can you have your child do something 5 times before you give him/her the reward? Children under 4 have a harder time waiting for reinforcers. They typically want everything- NOW! 

2. Does your child understand what the token means? 

Lets face it- if your boss said that he/she will no longer be paying you in dollars, but rather in tokens- will you stay at that work? NO!

What if I told you that the government now accepts tokens as a form of payment? Will you stay now? YES!

Same goes with tokens- even though our cute little stickers with smiley faces or laminated Thomas the Engine train tokens are beautiful- they must have VALUE to the child. The tokens need to represent some type of accumulation to earn a reinforcer at the end of the collection. 

3. Will you be able to deliver the tokens consistently?  

The goal with token boards is to implement them consistently. You would not want your boss to say “Ooops, I forgot to pay you this week!” – same goes with tokens! Make sure you are readily available to deliver these tokens when you “catch” your child doing the behaviors you want them to do. 

4. Can you identify behaviors you would like to “reward” with a token? 

When you are given an employment contract, you want to make sure that you know what your duties consist of in order to do your job and get paid. Same with token boards! Your child needs to understand what behaviors they need to engage in to receive a token!

5. Will you be able to deliver the reinforcement of choice immediately if your child earns all the tokens? 

The goal is that once your child earns the last token and has “filled up the token board”- that the reward will come immediately after the last token is earned. When picking the reinforcers- make sure they are things your child likes, but also things you can deliver! If the reinforcement is a trip to Disneyland- make sure you have a plan for that (for example, if your child earns the last token on a Wednesday night at 8pm- how likely are you to get up and go to Disneyland?). 

These are questions that must be asked and developed before implementing the token board with the child. If these are not considered, the token board will not have any meaning to the child.

There are also several other ways to implement a token board based on other variables- for example, reinforcing the “absence” of a problem behavior.

Token boards can also be as complex or as simple as possible. Each token economy system created for each child needs to fit the child’s needs and level.

Before beginning any token economy system, I highly suggest speaking to a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or a special educator with background in ABA to know 1) if your child is ready for a token board and if one is needed and 2) If needed, how and where to begin

Here at Behavior Trend, we evaluate all these considerations as part of our programs and explain and teach the process. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact us during office hours. 

I don’t want my child to become a robot!

I often get asked by parents if receiving Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services will turn their child into a robot. The simple answer to this: No.


When ABA is programmed correctly and implemented consistently across ALL team players, then we see children generalizing their responses. Your child’s ABA programs should be individualized, functional, and appropriate for your child’s current needs. In addition, the programs should also take into considerations generalizations. When we talk about “generalization” we typically mean that we want a child to understand the “bigger picture”. Sometimes to get to the “bigger picture”, we may need to start with one target, one picture, or one response. Eventually, your ABA program supervisor should evaluate your child progress with the team (this includes you and the therapists!) and determine HOW and WHEN it is time to start generalizing!

Your child’s ABA program should be evaluated by all the team players at least every 2 weeks. This ensures that the programs are kept up to date and altered if needed to promote success.