What makes ABA therapy so effective? ABA companies use a therapy approach based on personalized treatment within daily routines to replace challenging behaviors with more effective alternatives. ABA therapy is unique to the needs of each child, and is based on observable, measurable data that demonstrates progress over time.
Choosing the right provider will ensure that your child makes progress towards personal goals, while also enjoying each therapy session. Your child’s success starts with knowing what qualities to look for in a provider and making sure that the therapist is a good fit for your child.
3 Things to Consider as You Evaluate ABA Companies
As you begin your search for a therapist, start by evaluating the qualifications of the provider. If you’re not sure what to look for, ask your child’s care team for recommendations. Your pediatrician, occupational therapist, or speech therapist will likely be able to recommend a provider who will be a good fit for your family and your child. You may also want to reach out to local autism groups or organizations for additional resources.
Once you have your list, begin narrowing your options by examining the qualifications and therapy approach of each provider. Here are three key considerations:
- Provider Qualifications – Providers must meet rigorous qualifications to offer ABA therapy. They should also have experience working with children with similar needs and within the same age group as your child. Here’s what you should look for:
- BCBA Certification – This is the gold standard for ABA therapy providers. BCBA stands for Board Certified Behavior Analyst, and it means that the provider is board-certified by the BACB to create a treatment plan, set training goals, provide therapy, and assess data to monitor progress. BCBA Certification also ensures your provider is current in treatment interventions and research to support your child’s needs.
- RBTs – Many BCBAs work with a team of Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) who also participate in the therapy process with your child. These therapists work under the supervision of a BCBA to help your child make progress toward goals. RBTs are certified by the BACB as well.
- Company Structure – ABA providers may operate as an independent practice, or they may work as part of a larger ABA company. If the therapist recommended to you is part of a larger company, be sure to do some research about how the company operates. Ask key questions such as:
- Does this company have one or more BCBAs on staff?
- Does the company conduct background checks?
- How are therapy sessions monitored?
- How are treatment plans developed and updated over time?
- How does the company report progress?
- Therapy Approach – ABA therapy is a nuanced treatment that should be customized to the needs of your child. As you talk with the therapist, you should feel that they are listening to you and trying to get to know your child rather than taking a cookie-cutter approach. Ask plenty of questions, such as:
- What should I expect during the assessment?
- How do you set goals for my child?
- What does a typical session look like?
- Do you offer home-based ABA therapy?
- How do you evaluate and report progress?
- What do you do during a difficult session?
- Do you ask for and consider input from parents or caregivers?
- How do you support families?
Optimizing Your Child’s ABA Therapy Treatment
Here’s one final tip as you evaluate ABA companies: Look for a therapist and BCBA whose personalities are a good fit for your child. Even if a provider looks perfect on paper, they still may not “click” with your child, and that’s okay. Your child will learn best with someone they like and feel comfortable with, so keep looking until you are sure you have found a good fit.