Frequently Asked Questions

How common is autism?

Autism statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014, identify around 1 in 68 American children as on the autism spectrum – a ten-fold increase in prevalence in 40 years. Careful research shows that this increase is only partly explained by improved diagnosis and awareness. Studies also show that autism is four to five times more common among boys than girls. An estimated 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States.1, 2


What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

ASD is characterized by varying degrees of difficulty in social interaction and verbal and nonverbal communication, and the presence of repetitive behavior and restricted interests. This means that no two individuals with an ASD diagnosis are the same with respect to how the disorder manifests. However, the severity of the disorder is a reality for all individuals with this diagnosis and their families. Because of the nature of the disability, people with ASD will often not achieve the ability to function independently without appropriate medically necessary treatment.3


What causes autism? What are some signs that my child may have autism?

The following links has information to help answer these questions:

If you are concerned about your child’s development, please consult your child’s primary care physician.


Common Terms


A description of a RESPONSE in terms of the Antecedent (A), Behavior (B), and consequence (C) of the response.

* Antecedent is the stimulus that immediately precedes the behavior.

* Behavior is a description of the response in terms of its topography.

* Consequence is the immediate outcome of the behavior.4


ACE (Autistic Curriculum Encyclopedia)

The culmination of over 35 years of research and practice conducted at The New England Center for Children (NECC), a leader in the fields of ABA and autism. The ACE provides an interactive database containing assessment tools, lesson plans, teaching materials and student performance reports for over 1,300 skills drawn from the curriculum used at NECC. 4


BCBA-D (Board Certified Behavior Analyst – Doctoral)

A person who is actively certified as a BCBA; and has earned a doctorate degree in applied behavior analysis or one approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). Please see for details. 3


BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst)

A person having completed a prerequisite number of hours of University-level course work in the science of behavior, completing an internship under the supervision of a BCBA and passing the required written examination. Please see for details.3


BCaBA (Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst)

A person having a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in behavior analysis or one approved by the BACB. The BCaBA works under the supervision of a BCBA-D or BCBA. Please see for details.3


Behavior technician

A trained individual responsible for directly implementing the treatment plan specified and supervised by the BCBA.4


Behavior Treatment plan

A written description outlining how relevant individuals in a client's environment should respond if a given target behavior occurs, or if a given target behavior does not occur.4


DTT (Discrete Trial Teaching)

Three term contingency (Antecedent--Behavior--Consequence) relationship as applied to teaching new skills, where each trial is a separate attempt to teach a new behavior or reinforce a previously learned behavior. Example: The clinician working with the child asks a specific question to illicit a specific response by the child.4


EIBI (Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention)

Consists of 20–40 hours per week of individualized instruction for children with autism who begin treatment at the age of four years or younger and who usually continue for 2–3 years.4


Functional Analysis

A series of tests, referred to as conditions, in which the events that occur before and after the behavior are modified. By doing this, the reinforcer for those behaviors can be determined. In other words, we identify the function of the behavior. Most common functions of challenging behaviors are attention from a caregiver, escape from demand, or access to a preferred item.4


Functional Assessment

Includes a variety of tools used to determine the function of behavior, such as collecting ABC data of live events, or completing an interview with caretakers.4


I.E.P. (Individualized Education Program)

Document listing specific educational goals and objectives for the child and describes the educational services that will best achieve them.4


Incidental Teaching

Refers to teaching that “takes advantage” of naturally occurring opportunities to teach, often with student-initiated activities. In clinical usage, this is often used when discussing generalized training, with skills being practiced with stimuli “accidentally” encountered in generalized settings (actually pre-arranged conditions). Note: incidental teaching is when the child initiates the interaction, not the clinician.4


P.E.C.S. (Picture Exchange Communication System)

A system for communication for children who do not yet use vocal communication, in which a child exchanges a picture to ask for something he/she wants or to make comments about things in his/her environment.4


Person Centered Planning

An approach to program and placement construction wherein the student is an active participant in designing the program.4




1. (2014, January 1). Retrieved August 12, 2014, from

2. Center for Disease Control,

3. Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc. (2012).

4. Newman, R., Reeve, K., Reeve, S., & Ryan, D. (2003). Behaviorspeak. ISBN # 0-9668528-4-2