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Observation chart examples

How Can We Measure Behavior?


  • Frequency – how often?

  • Rate – speed

  • Duration – how long?

  • Are any products produced? (paper airplane, spit)

  • Latency – how long does it take to respond?

  • Time sampling – did it occur at certain points in time?


The ABCs and F

Antecedent – Behavior – Consequence and Function


  1. Setting event: May happen even days before the behavior

  2. Antecedent: Trigger – happens immediately before the behavior

  3. The behavioral response: the behavior itself.

  4. The consequence:

    • Determines if the behavior will happen again

    • Strengthens or weakens the behavior

    • If it is reinforced (accidental reward) it happens again if it is extinguished it stops

  5. Functionality: What was the purpose of the behavior?


When we reinforce behavior it continues this can happen accidentally. Johnny runs around the classroom and the kids laugh or yell or get agitated – The function of Johnny’s behavior was attention which he received therefore he will produce the behavior again.


Problem behavior is maintained by one or more of the four following types of reinforcement:


  • Social positive reinforcement: to obtain or maintain positive or negative attention; tangible items, activities or edibles.

  • Social negative reinforcement: to avoid or escape a person, place or situation.

  • Automatic positive reinforcement: to provide oneself with sensory input that is stimulating, arousing or calming – reinforcing.

  • Automatic negative reinforcement: to relieve oneself from discomfort – aversive situations


All behavior serves a purpose and fulfills a function we just have to understand what that purpose/function is.



The purpose of ABC observation and determining function


  • Identifies the factors that may be triggering the behavior

  • Identifies variables that may be maintaining the behavior

  • Identifies patterns related to the behavior

  • Identifies the function of the behavior – why is it occurring? What need do we need to meet or what can we replace the behavior with?


ABC behaviour chart
ABC Chart example (Geneva Centre for Autism).

What was the accidental reward here? What was the function? What have we learned?

  • Sarah was most likely hungry.

  • Sarah was rewarded when the teacher added five minutes this secured another event when the time was up again

  • Sarah may have been avoiding schoolwork – was attempting to obtain a tangible reinforcer.

  • Sarah requires her computer time to be highly structured – she requires visuals and a timer so she knows when to begin and when it is over – She needs a firm, consistent consequence when she is resistant.

  • Sarah must be required to eat snack before she is allowed on the computer.

  • Sarah’s computer breaks may have to be limited to a natural end – such as day end, lunch, before recess


So, what do we look for in ABC?

  • Common antecedents/triggers

  • Patterns – time of day, people present, activity, place

  • When does the behaviour NOT occur? What’s different?

  •  Similar consequences across incidents maybe serving the same or similar function.

  • What the setting event may have been?


Examples of observation forms

ABC behaviour chart
ABC behaviour chart
ABC behaviour chart
Data collection chart
Data collection chart

Many people prefer a simple tally sheet such as the one below to track how often a behaviour is occurring allowing them to also determine when and where by the time outline.

Data collection chart
Observation Charts
Behaviour Support Plans

Behaviour support plan Example

Behaviour Support Plan example:

The following example illustrates what should be in a Behaviour Support Plan (BSP). Any template or layout can be used as long as the following key sections and corresponding details are included.




  • Child has difficulty following the structure, expectations and routine of the classroom.

  • Child has difficulty following teacher and/or adult instruction within the school.

  • Child struggles with accepting consequences for behaviours.

  • Child has difficulty with transitions between environments.

  • Requests to perform non preferred tasks are difficult for Child and often result in complete refusal.

  • Child often finds it challenging to be forthcoming about his activities or behaviours.

  • Child responds to classroom requests with disruptive behaviours including, calling out, leaving the classroom, yelling, throwing or destroying objects and hiding.


Key understandings:


  • Child loves to be a leader and teach others especially in the zones.

  • Child enjoys technology.

  • Child has a great sense of humour and enjoys telling stories.

  • Child demonstrates strong abilities in math and language.

  • Child enjoys the opportunity to talk about his feelings and understand them.

  • Child has been diagnosed with ADHD and continues to take medication.


Antecedent events:


  • Asking child to perform a non-preferred task.

  • When there is difficulty with peers.

  • When he feels he is not being listened to.

  • When the classroom or space is too loud.

  • Transitional times.

  • When there is a change in routine or staff.



Warning signs:


  • Leaving the classroom.

  • Screaming or yelling.

  • Standing with arms crossed and scowling face.

  • Refusing to move or follow instructions.

  • Pulling his hood up.

  • Wandering the classroom.

  • Hiding in the calm space or a corner.

  • Throwing objects.

  • Destroying objects.

  • Avoidance.

  • Refusal.


Immediate measures:


  • Remind him to use his strategies – breathing, count to ten, take a break.

  • Remind him that to earn his “choice” break time he must be following his behavioural chart.

  • Remind him that to remain in the classroom he must be following instructions.

  • Ask him if he needs a break in the calming space – set the timer.

  • If that is not enough – remind him that he must then move to the calming space in the office.

  • Remind him that mom will have to be called if he cannot find his calm place and return to the classroom and or/ work in the office.


Positive supports:


  • Child is working on earning choice time with a friend by completing 2 or 3 skills on his behavioural chart – this is to increase over time.

  • Child is receiving support in the classroom from the Educational Assistant.

  • Child is working with the Behaviour Support Worker every day at 2:45 for zones of regulation, social skills and a break.

  • Child has access to a calming space in the classroom and the office.

  • Child is part of classroom teaching on the zones of regulation.

  • Child is taking ADHD medication.

  • Child is able to take movement breaks as requested and in a group with the Educational Assistant.

  • Child is provided with fidget supports.


Staff is encouraged to:


  • Remind him to use his strategies.

  • Ask him to take a break in a calm space.

  • To seek help (call the Behaviour Support Worker or office) if this does not work.

Reactive Plan:


  • If he cannot maintain himself in the classroom environment he will work in the office area until he is ready to return to class.

  • If he is violent and/or out of control and unable to calm, mom will be called and he will be sent home with missed classwork to be completed during this time.



Great Reads for you

Dr. Bruce Perry - Child Trauma Academy

  • Born For Love

  • The Boy Who Was Raised As a Dog

  • Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health

  • Brief

Dr. Ross Greene - Collaborative Problem Solving

  • Raising Human Beings

  • Lost and Found

  • Lost at School

  • Treating Explosive Kids

  • The Explosive child


Eric Jensen

  • Teaching With Poverty in Mind

  • Engaging Students with Povery

  • Brain Based Learning


Professor Daniel T Willingham

  • Why don’t students like school?

Ronald Rapee Ph.D

  • Helping Your Anxious Child – A step by step Guide

Great reads for them

Dawn Heubner Ph.D

  • What To Do When You Worry Too Much – A kids Guide

  • What To Do When Your Temper Flares – A kids Guide

  • What to Do When You Grumble too Much – A kids Guide

  • What To Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck

Kerry Orchard - Burroughs Manor Press

  • How to Tame Dragons and Hush Hyenas (anger/social emotional)

  • How Danny Found his Brave (anxiety)

  • The No Trolls Allowed Guidebook (sensory/anxiety)


Other titles

  • The Angry Dragon - Thierry Robberecht

  • The Angry Octopus - Lori Lite

  • My mouth is a Volcano - Julia Cook

  • Wilma Jean Worry Machine - Julia Cook

  • When Sophie Gets Angry - Molly Bang

  • The Way I Feel - Janan Cain

  • Moody Cow - Kerry Lee MacLean

  • Only one You - Linda Kranz

  • Listening to My body - Gabi Garcia

  • Pigeon Has Feelings too - Mo Willems

  • The feelings Book - Todd Parr

  • How are you Peeling? - Saxton Freymann

  • Pout Pout Fish - Deborah Diesen

  • Rainbow Fish - Marcus Pfister

  • My Many coloured Days - Dr. Seuss

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