Family laughing.

There are many components in providing effective therapy for a child with autism. One very critical part is the collection of data. Records of your child’s behavior changes and newly introduced skills help track his progress within each of his carefully designed goals. Therapists, educators, caregivers, and you as the parent, each have a unique insight that provides a valuable, overall picture of his accomplishments and struggles. Our team wants to help educate you on the importance of data collection and what your role as the parent means.

ABA Therapy + Data Collection

Before your child begins ABA therapy, he will undergo assessments to evaluate his areas of strength and areas which need improvement. Individualized goals are created according to his results. Goals are based on:

  • Skills that need to be modified
  • Skills that need to be introduced
  • Behaviors that need to be modified
  • Behaviors that need to be replaced

ABA therapy sessions then provide the opportunity to work towards meeting his individual goals. Goals may be created in several areas, including:

  • Self-help skills
  • Coping skills
  • Verbal and non-verbal skills
  • Social skills
  • School readiness
  • Aggression or self-harming behaviors
  • Motor skills

Data is recorded during each session to monitor improvements made, strategies that worked well, or changes that may be useful for the next session. Ongoing data collection is critical in individualizing and modifying each child’s ABA therapy plan to help them thrive.

Why is Data Collection So Important?

Regular and ongoing data collection is vital in evaluating the progress your child makes towards his various goals. Critical decisions regarding his goals and therapy sessions are made based on this ongoing data collection. Your child’s therapists will collect their data during sessions but the value and rely on your data collection as the parent. As a parent, you can provide insight into your child’s progress while in their natural environment. Your recordings shed light on continuing growth that his therapists aren’t able to witness. Your collection of data can show his team what may be working and what isn’t. It allows their entire ABA therapy team to make the necessary adjustments accordingly. Data collection may even lead to the discovery of why particular behaviors are occurring. Through the collection of your data, your child’s therapist can take an in-depth look into why specific patterns of behavior may have formed in the first place.

What You Should Know

As part of your child’s support team, you should expect to be in the loop at all times. The ABA therapy center you choose to work with must provide you with the knowledge you need to understand the ins and outs of the data collected. Before beginning, you’ll have the opportunity to meet with them and learn how to collect data. Don’t be afraid to ask questions such as:

  • Who will be collecting data during your child’s ABA therapy sessions?
  • Who else on the team will be responsible for collecting data in various settings?
  • What type of data will be collected?
  • What type of data would the team like you to collect?
  • How often will data be collected and analyzed?
  • When will the analyzed data be shared with and explained to you?
  • What does all of this data mean?
  • How often will the collected data result in modifications to your child’s goals?

How Do I Collect Data?

Collecting data provides invaluable information, but it doesn’t need to be an elaborate task. The focus is to help your child thrive, not bombard you with busywork. Think of it as providing snapshots of your child’s day that will help further his progress in ABA therapy. Create a few checklists to get you started and use them to get familiar with the process. If your child is working on self-care skills, create and keep checklists in areas that these skills are likely to be performed. When a new skill or behavior is completed successfully, such as brushing his teeth without assistance, check off a box.

Talk with your child’s therapist about additional information they may wish to see. She may want you to track dates or the frequency of a behavior. The duration of a behavior may be another valuable piece of data to track. There may also be instances where more in-depth information is necessary for you to record. Note what was going on in his environment before a tantrum. How did he react? What calmed him down? Providing this information is hugely beneficial in:

  • Helping to form new behaviors if needed
  • Noting if he has made progress with a skill already introduced

The ABA therapy team uses various methods in the collection of data, including:

  • Permanent Product: Data is collected based on the outcome of your child’s behavior instead of the actual behavior as it’s occurring.
  • Duration Recording: The collection of data is based on the length of time that the particular behavior occurred.
  • Latency Recording: Data is recorded according to the length of time it took from the given instructions to the beginning of the behavior.
  • ABC Data: ABC refers to recording data on your child’s antecedents, behaviors, and the consequences that go with the behavior.
  • Frequency or Event & Rate Recording: Data collection that will track the number of times a particular behavior occurs. When the rate is recorded, a specific time frame is designated, and the number of times the behavior occurs is then noted.
  • Time Sampling Recording: Instead of recording data consistently, data is collected periodically.

Helpful Resources for Data Collection

Do you need a bit of data collection inspiration? Our dedicated team at Blossom Children’s Center has put together a few useful sites. Take a look through a wide variety of tracking sheets, checklists, and data form options that will help you stay organized and track the information you need:

  • Cindy’s Autistic Support: a wide range of data collection materials for all your tracking needs
  • My Easy Bee: a packet of data collection forms you can easily customize

We’re here to help provide you with the services, resources, and tools your family needs. To learn more about our ABA therapy services, contact us today.

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