Autism Spectrum Disorder Behavior

Lets start with ABC

Functional analysis of behaviours helps the caregiver, therapist, and any individual who works closely with the child deeper understanding of why the child behaves the way he/she does. The child shows behaviour throughout every waking hour of his or her life and this can create confusion or leave us with large sets of data. In order to be able to handle large sets of data that comes through observation, it is important to use a model or framework that organizes it. ABA enthusiasts handle data (observations of behaviour) using the ABC framework

 A in the ABC framework stands for activating events or antecedents. Simply put into words an antecedent is an event or situation that takes place before the behaviour in question. This brings me to B which is the behaviour that occurs in response to the antecedent. Lastly C is consequences i.e. the event or situation that takes place after the behaviour or due to the behaviour or following the behaviour.

Let’s understand this using an example

The situation here is that the child is throwing temper tantrums after the sibling took away his/her game that he/she was engaged in at that time.

So, the A here is action of the sibling taking away the child’s game

           B is the temper tantrums after the game was taken away

           C in the situation That then results in either the sibling being hurt, or the child being hurt
Once we have understood the ABC, it will be helpful to fall back on the 7 functions that I discussed in the last article on Functional assessment or analysis of behaviour. The example I used shows that the problem behaviour (i.e. temper tantrum) happened because the child was unable to communicate his/her disappointment. This is a relatively simple example but most of the time the reason may not be so straightforward and hence the caregivers have to gather more data to find out the common patterns of behaviour that the child falls back on to deal with similar situations.

It is important to practice the recording of ABC before using reinforcement and other techniques that are available to change the existing problematic behaviours (i.e. scope of further articles). For reference I am sharing my way of collecting data. I would generally do it on an excel sheet.


Date A B C Function
2020/05/12 The child was asked to finish the homework that was assigned As soon as the instruction was given the individual started throwing a temper tantrum The individual ended up hurting him/herself Escape
2020/05/13 The child was asked to go along with the mother to the party The child started throwing things, screaming and yelling because child did not want to go Ended up breaking a lot of things in the house Escape



As seen from the above instance one can easily pick on a pattern of behaviour that the child resorts to (i.e. temper tantrums in the above example) every time, he/she encounters an undesirable situation, (in this case it is escape from party and homework).  The ABC framework will similarly help the caregiver to pick on the patterns and meaning (i.e. Functional assessment of behaviour) behind the behaviour and make the response or intervention given by the caregiver or clinician more effective. Finally, the result of this effective intervention by the caregiver will lead to reduction in the occurrence of problematic behaviours. 



Your scientific friend,


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Urvi Mange

Clinical Psychologist (Master of Arts in Applied Psychology) and MSc. in Neuro-Cognitive Psychology (ongoing)

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