Choosing an ABA therapy provider for your child can be an overwhelming process. Forget the needle in a haystack. As you comb through ABA companies and practitioners, you may sometimes feel like you are looking for a particular needle in a pile of other needles.

Because your child’s provider will play a significant role in helping them learn to navigate their world, it’s critical to find the right person. By developing and implementing an individualized treatment plan, this provider will help your child develop the skills and behaviors to function successfully in school, at home, and in social situations.

If you feel uncertain about how to proceed, a good place to start is with expanding your understanding of the various types of ABA therapy providers and what they do.

What Types of ABA Therapy Providers Can Work With Your Child?

There are many different types of therapy available to help children with autism. Each therapy approach is designed to help your child build strengths in different areas such as language development, sensory integration, activities of daily living, and social interaction.

ABA therapy is considered the gold standard for autism treatment because it uses proven, research-backed methodologies to help children with autism build skills, develop their strengths, and navigate challenging behaviors. Your child’s care team will work with you to develop an individual treatment plan based on the unique strengths and needs of your child and family.

Here are some of the types of providers you may work with:

  • Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) – A BCBA has been certified by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board, which means they have the ability to design, implement, and monitor your child’s treatment plan. This is the person who will conduct the initial assessment of your child, set treatment goals, track data, and update goals as your child makes progress. A BCBA can also provide training for parents and caregivers to help you continue new skills and behaviors at home.
  • Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) – Sometimes, a BCBA will have an assistant Behavior Analyst who works under their supervision. A BCaBA can work with your child in many of the same ways as the BCBA, but the BCBA will be the one directing treatment goals and overseeing your child’s therapy plan and progress.
  • Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) – RBTs work one-on-one with your child to directly implement treatment plans under the supervision of a BCBA or BCABA. They help your child develop new skills and behaviors as outlined in the treatment plan, and they aim to make sessions fun and engaging. The RBT will take data and document every therapy session and discuss the session with the BCBA who is overseeing your child’s treatment to provide feedback on progress.
  • Certified Autism Specialist (CAS) – The CAS certification is available through the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards’ (IBCCES) for professionals who work with individuals with autism. This certification is not specific to ABA therapy, but it is a helpful step for providers in a number of related fields including speech therapy, occupational therapy, special education, and more.
  • Autism Certificate (AC) – An autism certificate demonstrates knowledge and training in the field of autism. The certificate is offered through the IBCCES and must be renewed every two years. Unlike the CAS, The AC does not have a degree requirement, which means it is available for anyone who works with children with autism including bus drivers, paraprofessionals, and support staff.

What Other Types of Therapy Providers Should You Consider?

  • In addition to ABA therapy, your child may also benefit from working with other certified professionals to develop specific types of skills. Two of the most common recommendations for children with autism are speech therapy and occupational therapy.
  • Speech Therapy – To become a speech language pathologist, a person must complete a graduate degree through an accredited program and be licensed through the state. They may also choose to be certified through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. These credentials qualify a speech therapist to screen, assess, and diagnose your child and to implement a treatment plan. Therapy may include working on the mechanics of speech, associated motor skills, cognitive communication deficits, and social aspects of communication.
  • Occupational Therapy – There are many credentials and certifications related to the broad field of occupational therapy. As a baseline, the provider must hold a graduate degree and be licensed by the state. Look for an occupational therapist who is also a CAS, since this indicates that they have experience working with children with autism and will likely be able to support your child with issues like sensory integration, motor skills, and activities of daily living.

Choosing the Right ABA Therapy Provider for Your Family

In addition to looking at a provider’s credentials, it’s also important to evaluate the company and its approach to therapy as well as the therapist’s ability to interact successfully with your child. ABA therapy is a long-term investment, and it’s important that your child feels comfortable and engaged during each session.