Antecedent-Based Interventions (ABI)

National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders

Antecedent-based interventions (ABI) is an evidence-based practice used to address both interfering and on-task behaviors. This practice is most often used after a functional behavior assessment (FBA) has been conducted to identify the function of the interfering behavior. Most of the studies in the evidence base focused on determining the effectiveness of ABI procedures to reduce repetitive, stereotypical, self-stimulatory, and self-injurious behaviors in learners with ASD. In one study, researchers also analyzed the effects of ABI strategies on engagement and on-task behavior. ABI are a collection of strategies in which environmental modifications are used to change the conditions in the setting that prompt a learner with ASD to engage in an interfering behavior. For example, many interfering behaviors continue to occur because the environmental conditions in a particular setting have become linked to the behavior over time. The goal of ABI is to identify factors that are reinforcing the interfering behavior and then modify the environment or activity so that the factor no longer elicits the interfering behavior. Common ABI procedures include 1) using highly preferred activities/items to increase interest level, 2) changing the schedule/routine, 3) implementing pre-activity interventions (e.g., providing a warning about the next activity, providing information about schedule changes), 4) offering choices, 5) altering the manner in which instruction is provided, and 6) enriching the environment so that learners with ASD have access to sensory stimuli that serve the same function as the interfering behavior (e.g., clay to play with during class, toys/objects that require motor manipulation). ABI strategies often are used in conjunction with other evidence-based practices such as functional communication training (FCT), extinction, and reinforcement.


Neitzel, J. (2009). Steps for implementation: Antecedent-based interventions . Chapel Hill, NC: The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum