Applied Behavior Analysis therapy or ABA Therapy is an evidence-based best practice known for the treatment of autism and related disorders. ABA Therapy is typically carried out by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst or Behavior Technician.
ABA Therapy has been proven to be effective in reducing problem behaviors, increasing communication skills, increasing social and play skills, increasing coping skills and improving self-help and daily living skills. ABA Therapy is delivered in a variety of settings, including home, community, center and school. Prior to selecting an ABA provider, it is important to reflect on what your goals are for your loved one’s development – the answer to this question will influence the provider you select to work with. Below are a few important questions to ask when evaluating a new provider:
- Where will the therapy be provided? For example, if your loved one exhibits problem behaviors at school, but not in the home, it will be important to find an ABA provider who can provide school-based services at least part of the time. Skills learned in one setting will ultimately be generalized across settings, but a provider’s flexibility to provide services across settings is important.
- How do you determine goals for therapy? During the assessment stage, a provider will conduct a functional behavior assessment to gain a better understanding of what the functions of the problem behaviors are (sensory stimulation, escape, access to attention or access to tangibles). Additionally, the provider should conduct standardized assessments to understand the frequency and intensity of problem behaviors, skill deficits and strengths. Finally, an evaluation of the individual’s environment will be conducted to gauge which environmental factors may need to be adjusted in order to achieve stated goals. All of the above will be incorporated into a behavior intervention plan that is tailored to your child – accordingly, as a parent or caregiver, you should be an integral part of the assessment and behavior intervention plan creation process. While the assessment process will inform goals for treatment, an ABA therapist should not dictate the goals. A collaborative approach should be taken and all goals should be mutually agreed-upon.
- How is progress measured and how often do you re-evaluate goals? At the onset of services, baseline data will be collected (see the ABC’s of Applied Behavior Analysis blog post) to provide a point of reference over the course of services. As services continue, progress data should be collected every session. These data will allow the ABA provider to measure progress in a manner that is quantifiable. As goals are achieved or skills are mastered over time, they will move into other categories of priority, and new goals and skills will be introduced. The process of evaluating progress data should be continuous to ensure that one-on-one time with your provider is maximized, rather than continuing to implement an intervention plan which the data indicates is not effective.
- Other important questions: What kind of insurance do you accept? What will my role be over the course of services? What training will I receive as a caregiver? Are you able to provide services during times that align with my schedule? Do you have a waitlist for services and how long is it? How many hours will you be able to work with my child? Do you have experience working with children that have similar developmental goals as mine?