An ABC Chart is a direct observation tool that can be used to collect information about the events that are occurring within a student’s environment. “A” refers to the antecedent, or the event or activity that immediately precedes a problem behavior. The “B” refers to observed behavior, and “C” refers to the consequence, or the event that immediately follows a response. (Reference: Special Connections)

ABC data is a form of data collection which can assist with functional behavior assessments. The data collected can help to create a picture of the possible function of the behavior (escape, access, attention, automatic reinforcement). This is an important part of creating an effective intervention to increase appropriate skills and decreasing maladaptive behaviors.

Taking ABC Data

  • Antecedent (A): Record events or interactions that happen DIRECTLY BEFORE the behavior occurs.
  • Behaviors (B): Should include only OBSERVABLE Do not include guesses at internal states as emotions. Be as Specific as possible.
  • Consequences (C): What occurs DIRECTLY AFTER the behavior, including verbal interactions from staff/peers, physical interactions from staff/peers, and any type of prompting.

Data Examples

ABC
Behavior Technician said, “Clean up the blocks.”The student screamed “No! I won’t clean up!”Behavior Technician ignored the child’s statement and presented the student with another activity (a puzzle).

 

ABC
The student was distracted by the TV, so the Behavior Technician turned the TV off.The student threw the remote across the room while screaming.The student walked out of the room. Behavior Technician remained near the TV (did not follow student).

 

A’s and C’s to Consider:

There are common antecedents and consequences that occur and that are particularly important to identify in ABC data collection. Here are some common examples of items you may include in your ABC data recording when relevant (Ref: Special Connections, FBA)

Antecedents: demand/request presented, difficult task presented, transition, told “no” or “wait,” alone (no attention being given), or free play (child playing with toys with no demands).

Consequences: Request repeated, behavior ignored, attention (specify what attention looks like, such as reassuring statements or stern tone of voice, etc.), student told to take a break, or student given a preferred item (item he wanted or another item he generally prefers?).

TIPS for ABC data collection:

  • You must have multiple ABC scenarios collected with clear and detailed information to be able to hypothesize the function of the behavior.
  • You might also add setting events to an ABC data chart. Setting events are “the events that momentarily change the value of reinforcers and punishers in a student’s life. The occurrence of a setting event can explain why a request to complete a task results in problem behavior on one day but not on the next.” (Ref: Special Connections)
    • Examples of settings events include: time of day, environmental arrangements such as what classroom the student is in, illness, hunger, lack of sleep.

Reference:

Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence (ABC) Charts. Special Connections. University of Kansas. Retrieved 7/4/2017.

Functional Behavior Assessment Blank Form. Special Connections. University of Kansas. Retrieved 7/4/2017.

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