Target Behavior

Target Behavior– This is the behavior of interest designated to be increased or decreased.



Tact- A tact is the name or description of an item that is present in the speaker’s environment. For example, a commercial airplane is flying overhead while you and your son are out in the park.  Your son looks up and says, “airplane.”

Sensory Integration

Sensory Integration- Sensory integration refers to different strategies or techniques used to meet, raise, or lower internal sensory needs such as weighted vests, sensory diets, or brushing procedures. Often an OT will recommend sensory integration via a sensory diet. Sensory integration is not empirically supported for its effectiveness.

Stereotypic/Repetitive behaviors

Stereotypic/Repetitive behaviors – Loosely referred to as “stims.” These “stereotypies” are self-initiated, highly repetitive movements that can be vocal or motor in nature.  Determining the function(s) is important if the goal is to place the behavior under management.

Specific Praise

Specific Praise – Also called “labeled praise.” Instead of just saying “Good job!” when a learner just wrote his name much better than the last time he wrote it, say “I like the way you wrote your name today.”  This technique is a good way to clearly inform the learner the exact behavior that you are teaching him.


Shaping – This is an ABA-based teaching technique in which “successive approximations” toward the target behavior being taught are reinforced until the learner can perform the behavior successfully. For example, an instructor reinforces the way a student writes the letter “A” each time he writes it better than the last time he wrote it.

Self-injurious behavior (SIB)

Self-injurious behavior (SIB) – These are behavior that a person performs that result in physical injury to the body. Self-injurious behaviors can be: hitting oneself with hands or other body parts, banging one’s head unto the corner of a table, biting one’s hand, or picking at skin or scabs to name a few.  The function(s) of the SIB must be identified before a proper behavior plan can be developed.


Scripting- A loose term which refers to imitative vocal behaviors.  For example, a young child reciting an entire radio commercial or a few lines from a movie can be a form of scripting.


Satiation – Term used to describe the weakening effect of a reinfocer on a behavior due to its “over-use.”  It is best to have a selection of reinforcers to use in ABA programs to avoid satiation.


Rule-governance – A rule is a verbal description of a behavior contingency in which a learner does not need to experience the consequence of breaking the rule.  For example, the rule “Do not run while you are on the playground structure” is a pretty good rule to follow for a young child so he can avoid the likelihood of falling off the structure and hurting himself when he breaks the rule. The opposite of rule-governance is learning by directly coming into contact with the consequence of the contingency.  In our example, this will be the boy that ignores the rule, falls off the structure, with the boy no longer running in future visits to the park. Hence the saying “learning something the hard way.”