Jargon Buster

Our staff team have compiled a list of commonly used terms that you may hear used at BeyondAutism Schools, and included the definitions to help parents demystify the terminology.

Scientific Methodology

ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis)

A method of teaching that uses the pupils’ own motivation to encourage them to access their individual learning goals and targets. This method of teaching uses behaviour analysis as a way to teach/learn new skills, reduce problematic behaviours and increase socially appropriate and positive behaviours

Essential for Living (EFL) Essential for Living (EFL) is a comprehensive functional life skills curriculum, assessment, skill-tracking instrument, and professional practitioner’s handbook. EFL was designed for verbal and non-verbal children and adults with moderate-to-severe disabilities, including autism, and limited skill repertoires.

VB (Verbal Behaviour)

VB is a strand of research that analysed language as behaviour rather than as a cognitive process. It is an understanding that language is learnt and acquired like any other behaviour. It was proposed that language acquisition is determined by the way it is used (its function) rather than its form. Skinner (1957) defined the different functions of language (how we use it and why) which he called collectively Verbal Operants (please see below for further detail).

Verbal Behaviour Terminology

Verbal Operants

As above Skinner defined 6 key functions of language:

Mand (to request), Tact (to label), Intraverbal (to answer questions), Echoic/Mimetic (to copy), Transcription (to write), Textual (to read a text)

Mand (to request)

To request a desired item, activity, action or piece of information. Can be communicated through talking, signing, pictures or other behaviours e.g. pointing, pulling you towards something.

Tact/Tacting (to label)

To label anything in the immediate environment. This could include items, actions, emotions, smells, or interactions. Can be communicated through talking, signing, pictures, pulling you towards something.

Intraverbals (to answer questions)

To answer questions in social exchanges, engage in conversation, or filling in appropriate words from songs and phrases.

Echoic/Mimetic (to copy)

To copy back what somebody else says or does.

Transcription (to write)

To write, type or finger spell what somebody else is saying/has said.

Textual (to read)

To read text (this does not imply comprehension).

ABA Terminology and Definitions


Anything that somebody does, says, thinks, or feels.


The reason why a particular behaviour may be present in a person’s repertoire. For example, what the person is trying to get/ achieve through displaying a particular behaviour.


Something that occurs in the environment or setting, which might lead to a particular behaviour occurring.


Something that changes in the environment that happens directly as a result of a specific behaviour occurring.

Reinforcement (a form of consequence)

Appropriate behaviours are rewarded with something that is motivating to the pupil, and therefore increases the likelihood of that behaviour occurring again.

Punishment (a form of consequence, NB. Not an aversive strategy)

Something that is added or taken away following a behaviour that decreases the likelihood that the behaviour will occur in the future.


A behaviour reduction strategy that works by identifying what reinforcement is sustaining a target behaviour and ensuring that the behaviour no longer receives that reinforcement. This may result in an initial extinction burst (see below).

Extinction Burst

A temporary increase in the frequency, intensity or duration of a particular behaviour that is no longer receiving reinforcement (see above). This may also include new behaviours that were not present before.


Pairing is used in the initial stages of teaching to associate a person, items or environments with positive experiences. This strategy is used to teach a child or young person with autism that interactions with people are rewarding.

Mastered Pile

A set of cards used in intensive teaching trials (ITT) sessions consisting of all of the skills that a pupil has ‘mastered’ or learnt previously.

Probe aka “probed it” or “got it on the probe”

A data collection method that is carried out daily on certain target skills. It is a way of assessing whether or not teaching from the previous day was successful in teaching an individual a skill. This ensures that the skill being taught is maintained across time, settings and people.

ABC data


A data collection method that is carried out daily by Tutors on the antecedents (environmental triggers), that evoke specific behaviours and the consequences that followed the behaviours. ABC data is taken as an ongoing in-situ analysis and is used to identify patterns in the behaviours, such as when, where and why.


Board Certified Behaviour Analyst is a graduate-level certification in behaviour analysis. Professionals who are certified at the BCBA level are practitioners who provide behaviour-analytic services. They devise programmes, interventions and supervise the delivery of these programmes.

Positive Handling Techniques

Team Teach

A holistic approach to management of behaviours that challenge that involves a range of strategies mainly focused on de-escalation, prevention and safety. In situations in which physical intervention may need to be used, the measures implemented are in the best interests of the individual and are the least intrusive response appropriate.


SaLT (Speech and Language Therapy/ Therapist)

Speech and Language Therapists provide specialist therapy for individuals with communication difficulties. At BeyondAutism Schools, Speech and Language Therapists write and oversee programmes of SaLT interventions as well as working with pupils to support and develop their interaction, communication, speech and language skills.

OT (Occupational Therapy)

Children and young people’s Occupational Therapy (OT) enables them to achieve the things they want and need to do in line with their development. OTs’ use assessments to develop person-centred therapy programmes which aim to promote functional ability fine/gross motor skills and play skills.

Roles within the schools

ABA Tutor

A person who works 1:1 with a pupil and is responsible for the day to day implementation of the pupils’ individualised curriculum. Tutors receive on-going ABA training whilst in employment at BeyondAutism Schools.

ABA Lead Tutor

A person who is an experienced ABA Tutor working within a class. They are experienced in delivering a range of programmes and can support ABA Instructors in delivering training.

ABA Instructor

The person who is responsible for delivering initial and ongoing ABA training to tutors. They are responsible for ensuring the standard of teaching is high within their class. The ABA Instructor supports the ABA Supervisor in managing the classroom in their absence.

ABA Supervisor

The person who is the key leader within the classroom, managing staff, pupils and communication between home and school. They are responsible for the overall progress within their class and for the design and implementation of behavioural programmes and procedures based on the principles of ABA and guided by continual assessments.

ABA Consultant

Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA) who oversees and supports the work of individual ABA Supervisors across the schools, providing training and supervision where required. The ABA Consultant is responsible for ensuring that the ABA teaching practice within the school enables the pupils to achieve their full potential, and teaching is to the highest possible standard.

Teaching Methods

ITT (Intensive Teaching Trials)

One-to-one teaching throughout the schools is delivered using two distinct methods. The first method, intensive teaching trials, (ITT) is fast paced, repetitive table based instructions which aim to teach a variety of language skills in a highly structured setting.

NET (Natural Environment Teaching)

The second method (NET) is more loosely structured and incorporates incidental teaching opportunities in activities the pupil enjoys, this ensures that pupils have the opportunity to generalise skills taught using the intensive method to a natural setting.



Makaton is a language programme that uses signs and symbols to aid communication. At school when we talk about ‘Makaton’ we are usually referring to the Makaton signs. The signs are used in spoken word order and staff will use speech with the sign.

PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System)

PECS is an alternative communication method that involves teaching individuals who are nonverbal to exchange pictures in order to interact with others in their environment.


A signer refers to a pupil whose primary method of communication is through the use of sign language. Communication for this learner within the school is taught through the use of sign language, at BeyondAutism Schools, this is Makaton signs.


A pupil whose primary method of communication is through clearly pronounced vocal words. Communication for this learner within the school is taught using Echoics (see verbal operants above).

Vocal Signer

A pupil whose primary method of communication is through a combination of word approximations (unclear forms of the adult word) and sign language. Communication for this learner within the school is taught using Echoics (see verbal operants above) and sign language.

Assessments and Curriculum

AFLS (Assessment of Functional Living Skills)

The Assessment of Functional Living Skills (AFLS) assessment provides 6 protocols to assess functional, practical, and essential skills of everyday life, these are: Basic Living Skills, Home Skills, Community Participation, School Skills, Vocational Skills and Independent Living Skills.

Self-management, communication, housekeeping and chores, cooking and social awareness are some of the modules within these AFLS framework. The AFLS is primarily used to develop objectives that increase an individual’s independence in the community.

ABLLS-R (Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills)

The ABLLS-R (Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills) is ‘an assessment tool based on a criterion-referenced set of skills that can demonstrate a pupil’s current repertoire and provides for the tracking of its progressive development’ (Partington, James W. The Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills).

The ABLLS-R contains a task analysis of many skills necessary to communicate successfully and learn from everyday experiences. It is comprised of four assessments which are carried out on the learner, these are: Basic Learner Skills, Academic Skills, Self-Help Skills and Motor Skills.

BeyondAutism independence framework

The independence framework was developed in order to create an assessment tool that would enable preparation and planning for learners to move away from working full time within a 1:1 model. The long-term outcome is to enable learners to attend less supported services and eventually allow for the possibility of working towards accessing education within a mainstream setting.

The framework ties together two of the schools’ main assessment tools; Essential for Living and VB-MAPP. It assesses the areas of development that need to be worked on and targeted within group-based learning.

Focusing on all pupils needs; from pupils who require full time 1:1 support, to those who are beginning to access learning within group sessions at other less supported settings.

It requires detailed knowledge of the learners in order to be effective and for learners to progress to the next attainable level through the framework.

VB-MAPP (Verbal Behaviour Milestones Assessment and Placement Program)

The VB-MAPP is an assessment based on B.F. Skinner’s book Verbal Behaviour (1957), an analysis in the study of language. There are five components to the VB-MAPP that are used to assess language and other skills, to determine appropriate educational placements, and to assist in developing goals and objectives.

The first component is the Milestones Assessment, which is designed to provide a representative sample of the learner’s current verbal and related skills. The second component of the VB-MAPP is the Barrier’s Assessment, which provides an assessment of 24 common learning and language acquisition barriers that many children with autism and other developmental disabilities may confront.  By identifying these barriers, specific instructional practices can be developed to help decrease these issues and lead to more effective learning.


P- Scales are an assessment tool for pupils with special educational needs to report pupil’s attainment working below level 1 of the National Curriculum.

Informal Assessment

A brief assessment carried out by school staff prior to a child/young adult beginning a placement at a BeyondAutism School, to determine whether or not the provision is able to meet individual and educational needs.