Updated: Dec 26, 2018
Here are some frequently asked questions I have encountered over the years regarding ABA and my experience with each one. As you will notice with many of the questions in the FAQs, each child is different and requires a personalized answer for each of these questions. Always speak to your Analyst regarding any of the topics below. Laws and regulations vary across states so it is important to mention my expertise on how ABA operates is mainly in Florida.
Have some questions of your own? Feel free to ask me in the comments!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a BCBA, BCaBA and RBT? Each of the different certifications requires a specific number of hours of training or hands on experience and the therapist must pass an exam to become certified.
A BCBA is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, the graduate level certification. They need to have a Masters degree in Psychology, Education or ABA. They can provide one-on-one therapy but are mainly in charge of: Initial Assessment, Insurance paperwork, Parent training, Supervising BCaBAs and RBTs, Program updates, Program Monitoring and changes, collaborating with other professionals also working with the child. (My current certification)
A BCaBA is Board Certified assistant Behavior Analyst, the undergraduate level certification. They need to have a Bachlors degree in Psychology, Education or ABA. They can provide one-on-one therapy and supervise RBTs. They also handle some of the responsibilities of the BCBA, but under their supervision.
An RBT is a Registered Behavior technician, an entry level paraprofessional certification. They provide one-on-one therapy under the direct supervision of a BCaBA or a BCBA. They are only responsible for conducting therapy while expanding their knowledge of ABA.
Why are there so many therapists working with my child, can't I have just one? Every individual has different needs. Some children may require only 6 hours, or less, of therapy a week and some may require 30 or more. Because of the sheer number of hours required, sometimes two therapists may be assigned to the case. This helps split the work and encourages generalization skills for the individual as well.
Who will be working with my child and can I choose? The therapist chosen to work directly with your child is usually selected by the company you have hired. This varies from company to company but in my experience if they have chosen a therapist that may not be the best fit for your child, you are more than welcome to request a new therapist. Keep in mind that consistency is an important part of your child's success and constantly changing therapists may not be in their best interest.
Does my child really need ABA? Usually a child is referred to ABA treatment by a neurologist, pediatrician or other mental health professional that sees a need for intervention. This question may be best answered by them.The Analyst that is assigned the case will then complete an assessment and determine how much ABA the child will need and what goals they will set for the child. At this point you should have a better idea of how much therapy your child will require.
What does an ABA session look like? ABA sessions are different for every child and every setting. Usually therapy in homes involves the therapist working throughout the home on specific goals which can include, but are not limited to, daily living skills, behavior reduction, outings etc. From my experience, most therapists bring in their own materials to work with the child and require the family to setup an area in the home to work with the child. A simple table in the dining room may be enough for the child but it always depends on the needs of the child. Sessions should not be spent at the table the entire session and programs can be implemented all throughout the home and backyard etc. The sessions at home can be easier for parents to accommodate around the child's schedule. In a center, the goals can be the same but are worked on in a clinic setting and will usually be generalized to other more naturalistic settings. Most of the time the parents can either view the therapy session through a window, through a camera or even in the same room.The center usually has all the required materials and but makes it somewhat difficult to accommodate the child's schedule into their availability. ABA can be used in schools as well. Usually the goals in schools are developed to conform to the schools rules and trains the teachers to implement strategies to improve behavior. Peer interaction is also a big focus of ABA in schools
How long will my child need ABA? Every behavior support plan includes criteria for discharging a client. While it would be difficult to estimate the time frame required to reach that criteria, requirements should be clearly stated from the onset of services. It is always the goal of ABA therapy to fade out of the contrived setting into more naturalistic settings.
What is parent training? Parent training is included with every ABA therapy program. This also varies but it usually includes an explanation of the strategies used and extensive training on how to implement the strategies that the therapists use with the child. This is an important part of any ABA therapy to ensure the parents can accurately and effectively continue to implement the procedures throughout the day after the therapists finished the session.
How will I know what goals the therapist will focus on and why they chose them? Open lines of communication between professionals and parents are very important. If you have any questions about the goals chosen, speak to your analyst and discuss the goals together. They will be able to explain their reasoning behind why they chose specific goals and what the long term objectives are.
What is a Behavior Support Plan (BSP)? A behavior support plan is a document that clearly specifies the behaviors of interest (which ones are targeted for increase and which ones are targeted for decrease) antecedent based interventions, consequence based interventions and prevention strategies. The plan is developed after an assessment has been completed.
What can I expect during an assessment? During an assessment, the Analyst will ask you several questions regarding your child's general history, medical history, behavioral challenges, reinforcers etc. to gather as much information as possible. They will also ask to review any documents you may have about the child such as IEPs, assessments from previous therapists or other professionals etc. They will then directly assess the child in some way whether its asking the child questions or directly testing a specific skill. The assessment information will then be compiled into a Functional Behavior Assessment form and added to the child's file (which you have access to at any time.)