As ABA therapists, we use the ABCs (antecedents, behaviors, and consequences) to better understand the “why” of a child’s behavior.

Antecedents, Behaviors, and Consequences: The ABCs of ABA Therapy

Sep 8, 2021

When you have a baby, topics you once discussed and words you once used begin to take on new meanings. You learn about infant sleep, the Moro reflex, and object permanence, to name a few. And when your child receives an autism diagnosis, there’s a whole new world of information and another new vocabulary to learn.

At Innovative Behavior Options, parent training and participation is a vital part of the success of our programs. Research has shown that children in ABA therapy have improved outcomes when parents are involved and trained as part of therapy. As part of that mission, we’d like to delve into a couple ABA therapy terms that can both add a bit of context to your child’s applied behavior analysis (ABA) journey and serve as additional tools as you work with your kiddo and navigate behavioral change.

What are the ABCs of ABA Therapy?

As ABA therapists, we use the ABCs (antecedents, behaviors, and consequences) to better understand the “why” of a child’s behavior. We often ask parents to observe the situation and events surrounding a problem behavior so that we can work as a team to find a way to prevent the behavior or respond to it in a way that helps a kiddo learn and grow.


The antecedent is what happens right before a particular behavior occurs. Problem behaviors don’t typically happen out of nowhere – there’s usually a trigger. To determine a behavior’s antecedent, take a look at when or where a behavior typically occurs. Who’s present? Think about your kiddo’s environment and how it can affect each of their five senses.


We want to be clear: In ABA therapy, we’re looking at both functional behaviors (such as eye contact) and nonfunctional behaviors (such as hitting or biting). When we measure behaviors (or you as the parent report behaviors), we want to be as specific as possible. We’re looking at each part of a particular incident to fully understand the behavior.


A consequence is anything that happens immediately after a behavior. Consequences can reinforce behavior, so in ABA therapy we focus on finding the right consequences to reinforce functional behaviors. To learn more on using positive reinforcement at home, check out this blog!

ABA therapy takes an evidence-based approach to modifying behavior. At Innovative Behavior Options, we use ABA methods to improve social interactions and facilitate learning. To learn more, give us a call at 770-250-0093.


1155 Hembree Rd, Ste. 210
Roswell, GA 30076

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Phone: (770) 250-0093 ext. 700
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