April 4, 2023

ABA Behavior Intervention Plans: How to Write, Examples and Template

April Torres, M.Ed., BCBA
ABA behavior intervention plans from BCBA experts

All behaviors happen for a reason. Learn how to write an ABA behavior intervention plan and help your patients replace problem behavior with positive alternatives. Download free templates, read detailed examples, and find expert tips on all things BIP.

Inside this article:

ABA practice management software

What is an ABA Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP?)

ABA therapists write a behavior intervention plan (BIP) to help children replace problem behaviors with positive ones. They use a functional behavior assessment (FBA) to create a custom plan for each child.

Problem behaviors include any harmful, disruptive actions that interfere with a child's ability to learn or interact with others. Some examples include physical aggression (like hitting or biting) and inappropriate communication (like shouting or throwing tantrums).

ABA therapists and board-certified behavior analysts (BCBAs) use ABA behavior intervention plans (BIPs) to eliminate these behaviors. Creating an applied behavioral analysis (ABA) behavior intervention plan (BIP) is a lengthy process requiring targeted data collection and analysis. The ABA BIP uses intervention strategies to replace a problem behavior with an appropriate alternative that satisfies the same motivation or function.

Writing a BIP is a two-step process. First, technicians conduct a functional behavior assessment (FBA) to understand the function, or purpose, of the problem behavior.  The FBA identifies what is maintaining or causing challenging behavior, and then the BIP outlines strategies to improve or replace that behavior. BCBAs usually integrate their BIP plans into their clinic’s practice management software to digitize and streamline the process.

Robert O’Neill, Professor of Special Education at University of Utah

Dr. Robert O’Neill, professor of special education at the University of Utah, says the BIP should arise from the function of the patient’s problem behavior. For example, does the behavior serve to get attention? Or help the patient avoid certain activities?

“It's also important to think about a broad range of behavior alternatives,” O’Neill says. “In general, you should consider the relative efficiency and effectiveness of the alternative and problem behaviors. Then, if possible, select an alternative behavior that provides quicker, more efficient results for the child than the problem behavior.”
Katherine Jester

Katherine Jester, MS, BCBA, LBA, describes an example.

“Let’s say your FBA finds that a child engages in self-injurious behavior to get access to their tablet. With this information, you can try to identify behaviors that serve the same function and result in the same conclusion. For example, you can teach the child how to ask for their tablet back in an appropriate way.”

A BIP describes strategies to prevent recurrences of problem behavior, teach the child alternative behaviors, and reinforce the better behaviors. The plan also includes measurable behavior goals to track progress and a data collection protocol to ensure the child maintains positive behavior.

Using a custom approach based on the child's specific needs and behaviors, ABA therapists can help children with behavioral challenges achieve a BIP goal and improve their quality of life.

ABA Intervention Plan vs. ABA Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)

ABA therapists use an ABA intervention plan to help clients achieve various goals. In contrast, therapists use a behavior intervention plan (BIP) to address a specific problem behavior.

Jester says one key difference is how the therapist uses the problem behavior’s function for a BIP.

“A behavior intervention plan targets a specific maladaptive behavior, like screaming, hitting, or throwing a tantrum. BIPs also include teaching strategies to replace behaviors, but, critically, the replacement behavior will be tied to the function of the maladaptive behavior,” Jester says. “In contrast, an ‘Intervention Plan’ could refer to skill acquisition, e.g., identifying colors, bathroom skills training, engaging in positive peer interactions.”

Overall, a BIP focuses on specific problem behaviors, whereas you can write an ABA intervention plan to address other autism issues.

How Does an ABA Behavior Intervention Plan Improve Behavior?

An ABA behavior intervention plan (BIP) improves the patient’s behavior by teaching new behaviors that serve the same purpose as the problem one. A BIP also includes ways to reward good behaviors and reduce problem behaviors.

A BIP arises from the results of the FBA, which defines the function of the problem behavior. For example, a child may throw a tantrum to seek attention. By understanding why a child behaves a certain way, a BCBA can design an intervention plan that addresses the underlying cause.

“The FBA process should identify, as specifically as possible, the function of the behavior,” O’Neill says. “Then, a BCBA can determine what to change before the behavior occurs, and what alternative behaviors to teach the child that achieve the same function as the problem behavior.”

For example, if a child throws temper tantrums when left alone for more than a few minutes, a BCBA can initially work on reducing the times when the child is alone. Then, the BCBA can work on giving the child a different behavior to perform when they want to throw a tantrum.

Often, this process involves teaching the child a new skill. For example, as part of the intervention plan, technicians may teach the child how to use appropriate language to request attention instead of throwing a tantrum.

Most ABA technicians use positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior. So, whenever a child appropriately requests attention, the technician might give praise or an item the child likes.

Finally, BIPs use data collection and analysis. Thus, a technician can measure progress and make adjustments. This assessment supports long-term behavior changes.

When to Use an ABA Behavior Intervention Plan?

ABA therapists use a behavior intervention plan whenever a child displays a behavior problem.  BCBAs use BIPs to reduce harmful or aggressive behavior and improve the child’s daily life.

“Not every behavior problem requires a BIP,” O’Neill says. “Behavioral experts should always be thinking functionally about the problem behavior. We ask: What are the reasons this behavior might be occurring?”

He continues: “Based on these questions, you can sometimes make big changes with simple interventions (such as changing the types of tasks or activities for a learner). However, when children have long histories of challenging behaviors, they may require a more intensive assessment process and a more comprehensive BIP to address the issue. In general, deciding to create a BIP should be based on data and information on whether other initial strategies have been successful or not.”  

O’Neill describes how teachers and service providers use a three-tier model to support behavior interventions. “Tier 1 includes basic support that every child participates in,” he says. “Then, Tier 2 includes additional interventions for kids who aren’t successful with basic support. When these interventions are not as successful as desired, a teacher or behavioral specialist may then choose to conduct an FBA and develop and implement a BIP.”

Who Writes an ABA BIP Plan?

Behavior experts write the ABA behavior intervention plan. The expert might be a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA) or an assistant behavior analyst. They get specific BIP training.

When writing a BIP plan, a BCBA works with stakeholders like the child, family members, and other professionals who work with the child.

O’Neill recommends that BCBAs involve everyone who may interact with the child when problem behavior typically occurs. “When you’re thinking about how to teach and promote desired behaviors, you will want to identify all the different people who interact with the child across various settings. Then, you can work with these individuals to implement a plan everyone can use in all the relevant situations. When everyone works together, you are more likely to achieve more widespread and long-term behavior change.”

How to Prepare for an ABA BIP?

Therapists must prepare for an ABA behavior intervention plan before they write it. Start with a functional behavior assessment (FBA) to determine why the child engages in problem behaviors. Then, identify good behaviors to replace them and methods to instill them.

In ABA terms, the children’s reason for the problem behavior is a “function.” O’Neill and Jester split those functions into four categories:

  • Sensory: Get pleasant feelings (rocking, toe walking, twirling hair, etc.)

  • Escape: Get away from something unpleasant (for example, avoid doing homework)

  • Attention: Receive attention (from a parent, peer, teacher, etc.)

  • Tangibles: Receive access to an item or activity (food, tablet, etc.)

Four Functions of Behavior

Four Functions of Behavior

In ABA, some people use “FBA” interchangeably with an “FA,” or functional analysis. ABA professionals use both processes to identify the function of problem behaviors. However, the processes differ.  An FBA assesses a behavior’s function. In an FBA, an ABA professional observes the behavior and speaks with caregivers or individuals to determine the reason behind the behavior.

On the other hand, an FA involves experimental analysis. Here, experts test their hypotheses about the function of a problem behavior. Specifically, they manipulate antecedents, or triggering events before the behavior, and consequences in a controlled environment. Most ABA experts use FBAs because FAs require a very controlled environment.

“In an FBA, we collect data on the ‘ABCs’ to determine the factors influencing the likelihood of the behavior,” O’Neill says. “The A stands for antecedent: What happens right before the behavior occurs (like taking away the child’s tablet.) ‘B’ describes the behavior of concern (like screaming and throwing a tantrum for several minutes). Finally, ‘C’ describes the consequence, or result, of the behavior (the child gets the tablet back).”

Key Components for ABA Behavior Intervention Plan

Every ABA behavior intervention plan should describe the problem behavior and its function. Then, the plan details the strategies for improving the problem behavior. Also, it explains how to collect data to track the child’s progress and monitor the plan’s effectiveness. Here’s a detailed summary of the key components of every ABA behavior intervention plan.

  • Patient information and demographic

    At the top of the plan, include background information, such as:

    • Child’s name
    • Child’s age and school grade level
    • Diagnosis (if applicable)
  • Technician information

    Identify who is responsible in the clinic for helping the patient and monitoring and communicating progress to all stakeholders

  • Definition and description of the problem behavior

    Define the behavior in measurable terms. “You will need to be as objective and specific as possible,” Jester says, “because later technicians will use this definition to take accurate data.”

    For example, one specific behavior description can be: “Child cries, turns around, and leaves the room when addressed by a specific group of peers.”

    In this way, a technician wouldn’t ever just count “crying” as an instance of the problem behavior, if it happened around a different group of peers.

  • Function of the problem behavior

    This part of the plan describes the hypothesized functions for the problem behavior, which a BCBA determines from the FBA.

    In our example, the function may be that the child cries and leaves the room to escape peer-to-peer interaction.

  • Strategies to address the problem behavior

    Personalize the details based on the child and the problem behavior. This section contains multiple parts:

    • Antecedent strategies

      Describe strategies that remove or change antecedents that trigger the problem behavior.

    • Positive alternative skills to teach and promote

      Identify alternative behaviors that fulfill the same function as the problem behavior.

    • Positive reinforcement

      Describe how you will support the child with positive reinforcement whenever they engage in the correct behavior.

    • Consequence strategies

      Detail strategies to limit reinforcement of the problem behavior.

  • Monitoring and evaluation

    Describe which data collection strategy you will use to monitor progress and evaluate the plan.

  • Generalization and maintenance strategies

    Outline strategies to ensure that the intervention generalizes across different settings and contexts. You will also include a plan to ensure that the child maintains positive behavior for the long term.

  • Safety plan

    Describe any immediate short-term procedures needed for safety.

How to Write an ABA Behavior Intervention Plan?

To write an ABA behavior intervention plan, first review the results from the functional behavior assessment. Then, develop a strategy that will help the child adopt positive behavior. Include  how you will collect data to monitor progress.

To write an ABA plan, you need to bridge the results from the functional behavior analysis with a strategy rooted in the fundamentals of behavioral therapy.

Here’s a step-by-step guide where we use the example of a child who throws his books and pencil whenever he’s tasked with school assignments.


  1. Obtain parental and caregiver consent to do a functional behavior assessment

    Before conducting an FBA, you must obtain parental and caregiver consent.

  2. Describe the problem behavior

    Lean on the results of your FBA to provide a measurable description of the problem behavior. Describe the “what, when, where, how often, and how long” aspects of the behavior. For example, “John throws his books and pencil across the room whenever he does individual work in math class for more than 15 minutes.”

    ABA experts call this the baseline behavior or the initial description of the behavior before the intervention occurs.

  3. Describe the function of the behavior

    List your hypotheses for the function of the behavior based on your FBA.

    “Your FBA should identify which aspect of the work feels averse to the student,” O’Neill says. “For example, John may become frustrated only with challenging work. Here, he is trying to escape the demand of challenging work. On the other hand, maybe any math will cause him to flare up. This would suggest he is trying to escape from all work. Or perhaps he can handle even challenging work in a group setting, which would signal that he throws tantrums to either gain attention or escape alone time working.”

    In our example, let’s suppose that our FBA determines that John wants to escape the demand of having to do challenging work because he cannot complete the work.

  4. Describe why you should intervene in the behavior

    Consider the rationale for the plan and ask why a BIP will be necessary.

    For example: “We need to write a BIP because this behavior harms John and other students. Also, John will fall behind in math class if he doesn’t change this behavior. Finally, John needs to learn more appropriate ways of expressing his frustration with academic work.”

Intervention Strategies

After describing the behavior, its potential functions, and the rationale behind the BIP, you will begin to identify intervention strategies to help a student learn alternative behavior.

  1. Detail immediate antecedent strategies

    These strategies should change the conditions that trigger problem behavior. Here are examples of antecedent strategies in the example of John throwing his binder across the room during individual work in math:

    • Changing the task

      John may need help with individual work. Modifying the task may help him feel more successful and less frustrated. For example, the teacher could break down the task into smaller steps, provide additional support, or reduce the difficulty level.

    • Provide a choice

      You can also try to provide John with more options on the types of math problems to try.

    • Provide a break

      If your FBA informs you how long John typically engages in math work before acting out, you can add breaks that provide time to regroup.

  2. Describe teaching strategies and replacement behaviors

    “You need to systematically and explicitly teach behaviors and skills that will produce the same outcome(s) as the student’s target behavior to make the problem behavior less efficient and effective,” O’Neill advises. “This should include identifying and describing multiple replacement behaviors that will lead to the same outcome as the problem behavior. For example, to escape the aversive aspects of a difficult task, a student could ask for a break, ask for help with the task, or request another relevant activity.”

    In our example, here are two potential replacement strategies:

    • Teach John to request help by raising his hand and using appropriate language
    • Teach John to request a break by raising his hand and using appropriate language
    • If there's a significant gap between the desired and current behavior, you might identify a temporary alternative behavior to minimize disruption promptly. Short-term tactics can also help to shift the child’s behavior pattern away from relying on problem behavior to fulfill their needs.

  3. Outline teaching strategies

    Now, determine which strategies you can use to teach the replacement behavior. To plan teaching strategies, first identify a skills deficit: Which skills prevent John from using more appropriate behavior?

    For example, we might decide John lacks both communication and academic skills. With improved communication skills, John can ask for help or breaks more appropriately. Likewise, John will feel more confident in his math work with enhanced academic skills.

  4. Explain reinforcement strategies for positive behavior

    Develop strategies to provide frequent and immediate recognition for positive behavior.

    For example, when John appropriately asks for a break, he should receive positive reinforcement that matches the function of the behavior. In this case, appropriately asking for a break should result in receiving a break, which matches the function of escape from challenging work.

  5. Limit unintentional reinforcement of the problem behavior

    You must also assess whether the problem behavior has been inadvertently reinforced. If so, you must ensure the problem behavior doesn’t pay off for the student. For example, suppose the problem behavior was reinforced by receiving an escape from work without any penalties. In that case, your strategy may involve ensuring that John doesn’t always get an easy escape from his work.

Safety Plan (If Needed)

Develop a safety plan if the student’s behavior could harm themselves or others. Describe each action to keep everyone safe. This may require changing the environment or the people interacting with John.

For example, if John throws his book, he could easily hit a student. Therefore, you must implement immediate antecedent strategies that ensure he doesn’t engage in this behavior. This may involve having John work alone or removing challenging work until you can teach John how to ask for a break appropriately.

Steps to Create an ABA Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)

Steps to Create an ABA Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)

ABA Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP) Template

Our behavioral intervention plan template provides a framework for writing an effective BIP. It includes all the necessary sections, such as the behavior description, strategies, data methods, etc.

Downloadable ABA BIP Template

Downloadable ABA BIP Template

Download your free ABA BIP template and start creating effective behavior intervention plans.
We’ve also built an ABA data collection templates for you to use with our ABA BIP template.

ABA Duration Data Sheet

ABA Duration Data Sheet

Download ABA Duration Data Sheet template

ABA Frequency Data Sheet

ABA Frequency Data Sheet

Download ABA Frequency Data Sheet Template

Implementing ABA BIP Plans

To implement the BIP plan, assess what resources and staff training you will need. Then, develop a data monitoring and evaluation plan. Finally, consider how you will ensure the child maintains the positive behavior.

To implement the plan, first consider whether you have enough resources and staff to conduct the plan. Take these steps:

  • Review the plan to ensure it follows relevant rules and regulations.

  • Identify the resources to complete each task or action in the BIP.

  • Choose the person responsible for completing each task.

  • Identify any staff training needs.

  • Establish a timeline to complete each task.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Monitor and evaluate the BIP to make sure your plan is working well. Your monitoring plan should document progress toward the goal and include a plan to collect data on the behavior.

Monitoring and evaluating an ABA BIP involves checking how well the intervention works, making changes if needed, and keeping track of progress. Collecting and analyzing data is critical to ensure the intervention effectively addresses the target behavior.

Consider your logistics and constraints before selecting a data collection strategy. For example, a technician working one-on-one with a child will have more time to collect detailed data than a teacher working with 30 children.

“The type of data collection you choose should be guided by the relevant characteristics of the behavior," O'Neill notes. "For some briefer behaviors (like throwing an object in class), you will care most about frequency or how often the behavior occurs. For other behaviors, you might be more interested in duration or how long the behavior lasts. For example, in the case of a temper tantrum, we would want to know if both the frequency and duration of the tantrums decreased."

You will likely use your FBA results to determine when and how to collect data.

Most BCBAs use frequency data collection or interval recording, depending on their relative time commitment and availability. In interval recording, the data collector records every time the behavior occurs in a given time interval. In frequency counts, the data collector will record every time the behavior happens. Generally, technicians use interval recording to replace frequency counts when they don’t have the time to take a lot of data.

To round out your data collection plan, consider these questions and topics:

  • How will you collect and summarize data?

  • Are you most interested in the behavior's frequency, duration, or latency?

  • How often will you take data?

  • Which specific behaviors will you track and measure?

  • Who will track the behavior outcomes?

  • Who will meet and when to review the data?

  • Set manageable, attainable criteria that will give the student small goals and will be easy to track incremental progress.

Generalization and Maintenance Plans

Generalization means that a student can perform the behavior in different contexts.

Your BIP should also include a maintenance plan that ensures continued support after the child achieves their goals.

“When creating your BIP, consider all the different places and people that might come into play,” O’Neill advises. “Then, ask how you will teach the child to exhibit the desired positive behaviors across different contexts.”

He continues: “For example, if you teach a child to ask for help in a school setting, you also want the child to engage in this behavior when opportunities arise to ask for help at home or in another setting. The best way to facilitate generalization is to collaborate with everyone who might interact with the child in settings where the problem behavior is more likely. The goal is to teach the child with whom, when, and where to exhibit the desired behaviors.”

Provide strategies to help your child generalize the behavior across different settings and self-monitoring strategies that the child can use. Most BCBAs eventually decrease antecedent strategies and prompting when a child approaches the goal. These strategies help ensure the child can perform the behavior on their own.

Examples of ABA Behavior Intervention Plans

Download free examples of filled-out ABA behavior intervention plans. These examples can help guide your writing and ensure you craft the most effective plan.

Example of BIP for Attention Behavior

Example of BIP for Attention Behavior

Download ABA behavior intervention plan example for a problem behavior maintained by attention

Example of BIP for Escape Behavior

Example of BIP for Escape Behavior

Download ABA behavior intervention plan example for a problem behavior maintained by escape

Example of BIP for Access Behavior

Example of BIP for Escape Behavior

Download ABA behavior intervention plan for a problem behavior maintained by access

Example of BIP for Sensory Stimulus

Example of BIP for Sensory Stimulus

Download ABA behavior intervention plans for a problem behavior maintained by a sensory stimulus

Expert Tips for Creating Effective ABA Behavior Plans

Follow expert tips to create effective ABA behavior intervention plans. For example, start with a solid functional behavior assessment. The plan will flow from it. You’ll also want to involve other stakeholders to help implement effective strategies. And you’ll want good data collection and follow-up.

Here are more detailed tips on creating an effective ABA BIP:

  • “Make sure you have consistent staff training and check-ins,” says Jester. “Otherwise, there may be lingering confusion, and some technicians may not implement the plan as written, reducing its effectiveness.”

  • Start with a very thorough FBA. ABA and behavioral experts underscore that the BIP will arise from an FBA. The FBA will be the foundation for your BIP, and it can make or break the child’s success.

  • Review the plan with the parents and other caregivers. Ensure every stakeholder is on the same page and can support the student across settings.

  • Have other BCBAs evaluate your plan. BIPs are complex documents. A second pair of eyes or an external “checklist” can ensure you’ve covered all the bases.

  • Provide a one-page overview of the plan. Sometimes, a substitute teacher or new staff member must implement the plan but won’t have time to get into the details. A one-page overview will help orient them so they can implement the plan well.

  • Use a comprehensive practice management software with data collection. A practice management software with integrated data collection will streamline monitoring and evaluating your BIP data across all your clients. You can also use these tools to create helpful graphs and other visuals of your data to track progress.

Using Electronic ABA Data Collection for Behavior Intervention Plans

Electronic ABA data collection makes collecting data on problem behavior easy, so you can concentrate on helping the child. You can quickly record and analyze data, saving you time and allowing you to focus on supporting your patient.

“When a problem behavior occurs, you want your team to have instant access to the resources that will help them stay safe and provide valuable learning to the child,” Jester notes.  “When it comes to data collection, you don’t want your technicians to struggle to locate paper copies right when they should take data. Moreover, these copies might be outdated, damaged, or even lost.”

Electronic ABA data collection can be valuable for creating, implementing, and monitoring BIPs. With electronic BIPs, ABA therapists can easily identify patterns and trends in the child’s behavior that may not be immediately obvious through traditional pen-and-paper data collection.

Also, therapists and RBTs (registered behavior technicians) can quickly record data as the problem behavior occurs. That enables more robust data and more informed decisions about which interventions are effective. Overall, this approach leads to more efficient and targeted BIP interventions – and more successful outcomes for everyone involved.

How Artemis ABA Helps You Write Behavior Intervention Plans

Artemis ABA’s comprehensive software simplifies creating an effective behavior intervention plan. With Artemis, you can collect and analyze data more easily, set goals, and track your patient’s progress toward success.

Artemis ABA is a versatile software tool designed to support the efficient and effective management of data related to ABA therapy. Our comprehensive practice management solution will meet the unique needs of your practice with a wide range of features and capabilities.

With Artemis ABA, you can easily record and manage important data, such as behavioral intervention data, session notes, and signatures, all in one centralized location using our secure, cloud-based software.

“Artemis offers a highly integrated solution that allows your staff to access various resources, like videos, during instruction easily,” Jester says.  “Also, Artemis makes real-time updates to the BIP whenever a staff member makes any updates, giving the treatment team immediate access to the latest programming changes.”

Unlike other ABA software that may lack integration and reliability, the Artemis system offers a dependable and fully connected data system for your sessions. This feature allows for a complete client record and a detailed overview of your business operations, giving you the insight to make informed decisions and optimize your ABA practice.

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April Torres, M.Ed., BCBA