Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders

pp 156-157

Anecdotal Observation

  • Jennifer Varley GerdtsAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Washington Email author 


Anecdotal record


An anecdotal observation is a factual account of an incident. The precise sequence of events is documented using descriptive language in order to describe exactly what occurs during a given situation. The setting and context are also carefully described. Subjective statements and judgments should be avoided during anecdotal observations. Therefore, a written anecdotal observation should provide the reader with a clear picture of the event.

In autism, anecdotal observations are often helpful in learning more about a child’s behavior. Parents may be asked to make anecdotal observations of their child in order to keep a detailed record of their behavior, monitor their response to particular events, track progress during intervention, or provide information about their behavior following a change. Such information can be valuable for a service provider during assessment or when developing and/or maintaining a therapy program. School staff ...

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