Latency Recording

What is latency recording?

Latency recording is a different type of duration recording that involves an observer measuring how long it takes for a behavior to begin after a specific verbal demand or event has occurred. For instance, a teacher may be interested in how long it takes for a preschool student to join circle time or put his toys away once he is prompted.

Sometimes children engage in problem behavior to obtain a preferred item. In this situation, you may want to teach a child how to ask for the preferred item using a new communication response. Introducing a child to a new communication response can involve observing the length of time between a cue being presented and a problem behavior occurring. If a child cries whenever a toy is in view but out of reach, it can be useful to find out the latency before crying. The teacher can then prompt the child to request the toy before he begins to cry and therefore prevent problem behavior.

Latency recording requires some way of measuring time. A wall clock, wristwatch, or stopwatches are all instruments that can be used to record latency. Sometimes videotaping or audiotape recording can capture what is happening in the classroom and can be reviewed at a later date.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of latency recording?

Latency recording is really useful when you are interested in the length of time between a specific cue, event, or verbal prompt and the occurrence of a behavior. Latency recording can tell you whether a student is getting better at starting to work on in-class assignments when prompted to begin working, preparing for class activities, or returning to class after lunch.

When should latency recording be used?

Use latency recording when a behavior has a clear beginning so that you can tell exactly when the behavior starts. Make sure that you can identify a specific verbal instruction or an event that precedes the behavior of interest. Latency recording can be used to prevent problem behavior by identifying the length of time between a triggering event (also called an antecedent) and the occurrence of problem behavior. This information is used to find out exactly when to prompt a new communication skill that will result in the same outcome as the problem behavior. Latency recording also can be used when a teacher is interested in the time it takes for a student to engage in an academic behavior after an instructional prompt is given.