Finding the right Applied Behavior Analysis service provider can be challenging, especially since there are so many options to choose from! An important aspect of ABA services is quality. Quality is important because it determines the effectiveness of treatment. If a provider meets the markers for quality services, it is likely that your child will benefit accordingly.
Below are 3 tips for spotting quality in ABA:
1. Know who provides the direct services
Anyone making clinical decisions should be certified by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB) or should be actively pursuing a certification. The BACB oversees credentials and standards in the ABA field.
The BACB can provide several types of credentials:
Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
A BCBA has a master’s degree and has passed the credentialing exam. They oversee programming, train RBT’s, and make all clinical decisions related to your child’s treatment.
Board Certified assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA)
A BCaBA has a bachelor’s degree and has passed the credentialing exam. They complete BCBA responsibilities under the supervision of a BCBA.
Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)
An RBT has received a 40-hour training and passed the credentialing exam. RBT’s provide direct therapy services, meaning they will be the ones running sessions with your child. They should be supervised by a certified clinician at a minimum of 5% of their direct therapy time.
This is not a credentialed position, but is usually someone who is pursuing their certification to become a BCBA or BCaBA and has accrued experience hours and a degree. This person should be overseen by a certified clinician.
2. Treatment should be individualized
Every child has different skills, challenges, and areas of growth. This means that assessments and programming should be unique to your child. Before beginning direct therapy services, the BCBA will complete an assessment to measure your child’s skills in different areas related to their autism diagnosis.
Some examples of assessments are:
These assessment tools have been developed through research, and are considered to be high quality measures. You can ask your providers which types of assessments they will be using, and why they have selected them for your child.
In addition to selecting the appropriate assessment, providers should also tailor programming based on their observations and assessment results.
Every child has different skills, challenges, and areas of growth. Assessments and programming should be unique to your child.
3. Treatment decisions should be based on data
Data collection is a critical part of Applied Behavior Analysis. Without data, there is no way to measure progress or make clinical decisions. Quality ABA providers should collect data during every therapy session and have visual representations of that data.
Data collection includes documenting correct and incorrect responses, tracking how often behaviors occur, and providing a summary of the therapy sessions. All clinicians involved in your child’s treatment should be collecting data frequently and making decisions based on that data.
Here are some questions you can ask the provider to determine if treatment decisions are data based:
1. Who will be collecting data?
The RBT should collect data during every therapy session. The supervisor will collect data during assessments and during therapy sessions. RBT’s and supervisors summarize sessions by writing a treatment note for every session that is observed.
2. How will that data be collected?
Data can be collected in many ways. The most common method is likely through an online platform. It is common to see an RBT with a tablet making notes during their session. Another way to collect data is by using data sheets. An RBT might record data by writing it down on a printed sheet or a notebook.
3. How will you track my child’s progress?
Progress should be tracked using visual graphs. If an online platform is used, the data will automatically be converted to a graph. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to monitor the data and make sure that goals are being met.
Asking the right questions when selecting an ABA provider is important. Ask to speak to a clinician such as a BCBA or Clinical Director so that you can determine if they provide quality ABA services.
MeBe ABA Services
To learn more about ABA therapy, watch the MeBe ABA: 101 video series, available in English and Spanish.