Skip to main content
  • 395 Accesses


Chaining refers to a variety of procedures for teaching behavior chains. A behavior chain is a series of responses in which each step serves both as a reinforcer for the previous step and as a discriminative stimulus for the next step (e.g., Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007). The reinforcer delivered at the end of the chain maintains all of the previous responses in the chain.

It is important to teach behavior chains for complex sequences of responses that must be maintained at independent levels. Chaining procedures are used to teach many multistep skills, including self-help and daily living skills. The most common variations of chaining are forward and backward chaining. Task analysis is an essential component of chaining. The determination of steps in a chain that will be taught sequentially is complex and must be done competently.

In forward chaining, the sequence of actions is taught in temporal order. The learner is prompted and taught to perform the first step in the...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or eBook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
USD 1,799.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

References and Readings

  • Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

    Google Scholar 

  • Miltenberger, R. G. (2001). Behavior modification: Principles and procedures. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Thomson Learning.

    Google Scholar 

  • Test, D. W., Spooner, F., Kevl, P. K., & Grossi, T. (1990). Teaching adolescents with severe disability to use the public telephone. Behavior Modification, 14, 157–171.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mary Jane Weiss .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York

About this entry

Cite this entry

Weiss, M.J. (2013). Chaining. In: Volkmar, F.R. (eds) Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Springer, New York, NY.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, New York, NY

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4419-1697-6

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4419-1698-3

  • eBook Packages: Behavioral Science

Publish with us

Policies and ethics