Updated: Jun 8
By now you may have heard the word data multiple times when it comes to your child’s ABA program. Phrases such as “the data suggests”, “let’s look at the data,” and finally, the famous “show me the data” are said every time you have a caregiver support meeting. You may have even been asked to collect data on your child at home–but why?
The data allows for an objective view and ensures effective treatment.
WHAT IS DATA?
In Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), data means to measures some quantifiable aspect of a behavior. For example, a BCBA might count how many times a child screams or how long a tantrum lasts.
WHY COLLECT DATA?
The simplest answer as to why we collect data is to know whether or not the treatment is working and effective. In ABA, the data collected is used as a tool to navigate the direction of your child’s treatment program. The data is analyzed and information from the data may be used to modify a specific program or discontinue a program if the data suggest the approach is ineffective. The data allows for an objective view and ensures effective treatment.
WHAT TYPE OF DATA IS COLLECTED?
In ABA there are several types of data collection methods used to help assist with your child’s programming. As you might know, the field of ABA is full of jargon and other technical terms, so below we've provided a table with a few everyday terms that you may hear in your caregiver support meetings:
For a list of other terms frequently used in ABA Therapy, we encourage you to check out our previous article, "ABA Speak is Weak," by Alex S. And of course, if you're not sure about what a word may mean, never hesitate to ask your RBT or BCBA!
WHAT HAPPENS TO ALL OF THE COLLECTED DATA?
Regardless of the type of data collected the Behavior Analysts will look at the data and determine patterns of behavior, progress, and sometimes lack of progress. From this analysis the BCBA can make changes based on objective measures and facts versus assumptions and guesses. With data to support our treatment planning meaningful outcomes are more likely to occur.
The information gathered from the data you collect will only continue to support your child’s overall growth.
THE PARENT'S ROLE IN DATA COLLECTION
Data collection can be exciting, as it reveals helpful information about the current approaches in your child’s ABA program. As parents of children participating in ABA this means there is plenty of opportunities to practice data collection outside of ABA support sessions. The data collected will be useful to your BCBA and help inform you as parents. Data you collect may help identify a pattern of behavior. For example, every day around the same time, your child has a tantrum. The data you collect will also show you if your response to your child’s behavior makes the behavior happen less. Although data, numbers, and graphs can be intimidating, the information gathered from the data you collect will only continue to support your child’s overall growth. We invite you to reach out to your child’s team to discuss data collection as well as any other questions or concerns you have regarding your child’s ABA program.
Courtney B. comes to InBloom with over 6 years’ experience as a BCBA.
She obtained her M.Ed from Texas State University with a focus on autism. Courtney comes from a military family and has the opportunity to experience the great city of San Antonio for many years. Courtney likes to read anything on the Royal Family and take walks with her dachshund, Peanut.