For parents conducting intensive ABA or Applied Behavior Analysis therapy at home, collecting and tracking data can seem like a daunting task. Some parents feel that they need to keep rigorous data in regards to every question to a degree that it hampers their ability to teach effectively, while some parents feel that they can rely on memory to track their child's progress and note both impairments and improvements. The truth is that data collection is a delicate balance between ensuring that progress is properly noted without getting so wrapped up in details that the lesson suffers. What follows are some basic tips for collecting data.
It should first be noted that parents are encouraged to use data collection sheets. Professionally designed to offer task analysis as well as the creation of easy to read graphs, data collection sheets simplify analyzing your child's progress with ABA therapy. For parents who opt to create their own data records, however, there are some tips to simplify and streamline the process. It is recommended to record data for separate sections and skills on separate sheets of paper and to document results only at the end of the lesson.
One tip many parents find helpful is to take a task such as getting dressed and break it down into smaller sections, such as choosing clothes, putting on underwear, putting on pants, putting on shirt, putting on sock, putting on shoes, putting pajamas in hamper, etc. When each step is outlined, it becomes easy to outline which steps were taken without prompt and which required prompting. This helps to outline trends and areas that need more work. The same theory can apply for any activity, including things such as shape or color recognition, with notes being taken of shapes or colors recognized alone and those requiring a hint or prompt. It is important to count only the child's first response and to be truthful in your data recording, as counting partial answers can skew data and harm your progress in the long run.
In short, data collection can be a relatively simple process even though it is highly important. While professional collection sheets are recommended, many parents find success using their own data collection methods. Applied Behavior Analysis relies heavily on the assessment of the data that is collected from each lesson, but as long as the proper data is recorded and the proper points are stressed and worked on, ABA is designed to help your child function as normally as possible.
Christy Butch is the Mother of a 6 year old with autism and the founder of Maximum Potential Group.