Why Is Data Collection Important in ABA Therapy?

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 value and rely on your
data collection as the parent. As a parent, you can provide insight
into your child’s progress while in his natural environments. 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 his 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

Do you need a bit of data collection inspiration?
Our dedicated team at Blossom Behavioral Wellness 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:

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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