Erin Lombard
Expert Name: Erin Lombard
Expert Title: Erin Lombard
Company Name:  Step by Step Academy
Company URL: www.stepbystepacademy.org
Short Bio: Erin Lombard is a Board Certified Bahavior Analyst and a certified Special Education educator currently teaching graduate level Positive Bahavior Support courses at Northern Arizona University. She holds an undergraduate degree in Child and Adolescent Studies and a master’s degree in Special Education obtained in California State University and University of North Texas respectively. She is currently working on her Ph.D. in Psychology at Capella University.

ABC’s of ABA

Intensive behavioral treatment based on the principles of applied behavior analysis is well-documented as an effective treatment for individuals with autism. For most parents, though, this treatment may need to be accompanied with a dictionary! There are many acronyms and strange language thrown around. ABA is the most effective treatment for people with autism. Even though many of the techniques and strategies may seem like common sense, ABA as a rigorous treatment intervention with strong behavioral science behind it. Parent, educators, and other professionals who work with individuals on the autism spectrum will benefit from ABA training.

But for starters, this list should help you decipher some of these technical ABA terms!


ABA: Acronym for Applied Behavior Analysis. ABA is a science of behavior. The acronym ABA also refers to ABA treatment in which the principles of applied behavior analysis are utilized.

DRO: Differential Reinforcement of Other behavior.

DTT: Acronym for Discrete Trial Training. Intensive behavior intervention, using applied behavior analysis, utilized in a highly structured teaching environment. The structured instruction includes using the same structured language when giving an instruction, and immediately following a response with a consequence. The consequence may include verbal praise or access to a toy or edible if the response was correct. The consequence may include a form of “No” in a neutral voice if the response was incorrect.

NET: Acronym for Natural Environment Training. Intensive behavior intervention, using applied behavior analysis, utilized in an individual’s natural environment. This means teaching occurs based on the child’s own interest and typically is not highly structured.

SD: Acronym for Discriminative Stimulus. An SD, or discriminative stimulus, is the instruction or other antecedent evoking a response. When an instructor says “touch your nose”, that instruction is the SD for the child to touch his nose.

VB: Acronym for Verbal Behavior. Verbal behavior is a behavior analytic science of the behavior of verbal language. This may include both vocal and non-vocal language. Verbal behavior analyzes behavior across what is known as verbal operants: mands, tacts, intraverbals, echoics. VB is also known as a specific type of intensive behavior intervention in which treatment focuses on increasing skills across the verbal operants.

Mand: Mand is a verbal behavior word for requesting. When increasing mands, a therapist is increasing the number of requests the child is able to use.

Tact: Tact is a verbal behavior word for labeling. Tacting occurs when a child is able to expressively identify an object using vocal words or manual sign language.

Intraverbal: Intraverbal is a verbal behavior word for conversation. Intraverbals occur when a child responds to a statement or question with an answer without repeating the statement or question.

Echoic: Echoic is a verbal behavior word for vocal imitation. When a child repeats a sound, word, or phrase, the child has emitted an echoic.