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Antecedent-Based Intervention (ABI)

Antecedent-based intervention (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.


ABIs are a collection of strategies in which environmental modifications are used to change the conditions in a 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 reinforce 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, 2009).

ABI meets evidence-based criteria with 32 single-case design studies. According to the evidence-based studies, this intervention has been effective for toddlers (0–2 years) to young adults (19–22 years) with ASD. ABI can be used effectively to address social, communication, behavior, play, school-readiness, academic, motor, and adaptive skills.

Research Summary

Ages (yrs) Skills Settings Outcome
0-22 years Social, Communication, Behavior, Play, Cognitive, School Readiness, Academic, Motor, Adaptive Home, School, Community
*The information found in the Research Summary table is updated yearly following a literature review of new research and this age range reflects information from this review.

Outcomes:     Evidence-based     Emerging     No evidence     Comprehensive

Steps for Implementation


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