How do I know what to expect from an ABA company?

ABA companies have a lot of similarities amongst each other, but there can also be a lot of differences (from treatment settings, treatment hour’s recommendations, teaching methodologies, staff structures, and more).  Even though there can seem to be many differences, the main principles should be the same.  ABA is a science with lots of research to support it. ABA companies should use basic ABA principles and current research to build your child’s ABA program.

Parents and caregivers can become informed of what to expect from an ABA company by reviewing the following resources:

Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB)

Behavior Analysts and Behavior Technicians are certified through The Behavior Analyst Certification Board®, Inc. (BACB®).

“The BACB is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation established in 1998 to meet professional credentialing needs identified by behavior analysts, governments, and consumers of behavior analysis services. The BACB’s certification requirements, exam content, and procedures undergo regular review according to international standards for organizations that grant professional credentials. All BACB requirements and examination content are established by content experts in the discipline.”

The BACB released a video on June 29, 2018 that provides a brief overview of behavior analysis for the general public. Visit About Behavior Analysis to view the video.

Experience Standards and Certification

The BACB has a set of experience standards that must be met for a Behavior Analyst and a Behavior Technician to become certified through the BACB. To review the current experience standards, please visit the BACB. Once certified, a Behavior Analyst is called a Board Certified Behavior Analyst or BCBA and a Behavior Technician is called a Registered Behavior Technician or RBT. 

You should ask if your child’s supervisor is a BCBA and if their behavior technicians are RBTs.  Or you can look them up in the BACB’s RBT Registry or BCBA Registry. If they aren’t on the registry, you can ask them where they are at in the process of obtaining their credentials and if they are currently supervised by a BCBA.  It takes time to earn these credentials and working with clients is a requirement towards becoming certified.  BTs are not required to be RBTs, but it would be considered best practices for technicians to obtain this credential. RBTs cannot work independently without being supervised by a BCBA.  If your child’s ABA team isn’t supervised by a BCBA closely, then you may have cause to be concerned.

BACB Task Lists

Parents and caregivers can be aware of basic ABA principles and core tasks that can be performed by BCBAs and RBTs, by reviewing the BACB’s task lists, which can be found at Behavior Analyst Certification Board or BACB’s website: BCBA Task List and for RBT Task List.

BACB Practice Guidelines for ASD

The BACB has released a document with suggested standards in the delivery of ABA services called the PRACTICE GUIDELINES FOR ASD. “The standards presented in this document reflect the consensus of a number of subject matter experts, but do not represent the only acceptable practice.” There are a number of reasons the standards reflected in this document might not be in place in your child’s ABA services, some reasons might be the funding source, insurance requirements, staffing, and/or treatment settings.   You can refer to this document to gain knowledge on suggested standards.  If you have any questions why these standards are not being followed, just ask your child’s BCBA!

All ABA companies should follow these standards to the best of their ability. If you are currently with another company and not happy, we advise you first to ask your BCBA or their supervisor about best practices and see if they are willing to work with you. You may be able to help your team make any changes they need to follow those standards by having an open discussion with your current company. 

Growing Field of ABA

As ABA practitioners, we have a large population to serve. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that “about 1 in 59 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)” according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.

ABA is the #1 recommended treatment for children and adults with ASD.  There is a growing need for ABA services and while our field is growing, we have a shortage of qualified staff both nationally and internationally.  The number of BCBAs and RBTs grows each year, see the BACB’s Annual Data Report for current numbers of certified staff.

Illinois Association for Behavior Analysts (ILABA)

Many of GBC aba’s staff are active members of Illinois Association for Behavior Analysts (ILABA). Stephanie Gorbold, GBC aba’s founder and president, is a board member and the current president-elect of ILABA.  She also chairs the Insurance Task Force committee.  Suzanne Juzwik, GBC aba’s Client Rights Officer, serves on ILABA’s Client Rights Committee. 

GBC aba

The specialists on our team are always seeking ways to improve and expand their skills by staying current with the latest research, by attending professional conferences and seminars, by being members of professional organizations, and by taking continuing education courses to keep up with best practices in ABA.

We hope you will consider contacting GBC aba to determine if we are a good fit for your family’s needs. If you have questions about the resources provided in this blog, please contact info@gbcaba.com.

References

BACB’s Annual Data Report. Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Retrieved September 16, 2018, from www.bacb.com.

Board Certified Behavior Analyst Task List. Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Retrieved September 16, 2018, from www.bacb.com.

IlABA. Retrieved September 16, 2018, from www.ilaba.clubexpress.com.


Practice Guidelines for ASD. Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Retrieved September 16, 2018, from www.bacb.com.

Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2014. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 16, 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/ss/ss6706a1.htm

Registered Behavior Technician Task List. Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Retrieved September 16, 2018, from www.bacb.com.

Our ABA Journey- Viewpoint from an Autism Mom and ABA Therapist

Blog 1:

I am a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and a mom of an autistic daughter.  I wear “two hats” as they say.  Sometimes I forget to take one hat off, before putting the other one on. Life can get so busy, emotional, and hectic.

My Job and Autism

Prior to having my daughter, I was a BCBA and worked as a behavior technician for 7 years. Before that I was a special education teacher for 5 years.  I have worked with children and adults on the spectrum since I was 17 years old (20+ years).

Working for ABA companies, I travel back and forth to client’s homes, school settings, and community settings, work long hours and late nights.  I love what I do, I especially love working at @GBCaba.  Every day I get the privilege to help clients with autism and their families, to help transform lives.

My Baby and Autism

Then, my daughter was born and I became a mom.  I began working at GBC aba, as a BCBA, the same year.  Work was great. My baby was healthy and I loved being a mom.  Things were going well, until they weren’t.

I didn’t know if I was paranoid or if it really was happening to me.  So many of the things I saw in my clients, I started seeing in my little girl.  I just had this feeling she had autism.  I enrolled her in early intervention, as soon as possible.  We had 5 different therapists coming to our home each week for one hour at a time, but it wasn’t enough.  Every month another milestone passed us by and my daughter’s delays were becoming bigger and bigger.

I took her to be evaluated for autism at 2 years old, but was told not yet.  I was livid and felt like the diagnostician was wrong!  I knew it… my daughter had autism.  Every minute without the formal diagnosis was another minute without ABA therapy.  The diagnostician wanted us to do further testing, we did what the diagnostician recommended.  One year later, after seeing countless specialists and going through other tests, she was diagnosed with autism, a heart defect, and a rare genetic condition.  Finally, she could receive ABA therapy to get her the help she needed!

You might ask, why didn’t you do it if you are a BCBA… more on this later, but the big answer is she is my daughter and even though I teach her daily, it is different! Being a mom is what she needs me to be.  I need other people in our lives, so I can be her mom.

Autism and ABA

I signed her up immediately for ABA therapy and waited for services to start.  We toured several agencies and interviewed them all.  To be honest, it was kind of weird being on that side of it.  For years, I was the one interviewing families.  In fact, I still do.  I was afraid the ABA companies would think of me as a competitor trying to steal secrets and gather Intel and not as a mom looking for help. In fact, one company did! After seeing my title and credentials (BCBA) in my email, they told me never to contact them again.  I was hurt.  I was just a mom looking for someone to help my baby.

Waitlists and Turnover

It took forever for services to start.  We were on waitlists, which many of you know is common with ABA companies.  I finally chose one company.  They did an assessment, but then we waited 3 months for staff and there was no word when they would start.

I couldn’t wait anymore, so we left that company and started at another one.  About one month after the assessment, we finally started with a team.  I was thrilled and hopeful.  My daughter would finally get some help! Then 3 months later, the BCBA left the company and so did all 3 of her technicians.  This was our first experience with turnover and it was massive.  This meant we had to start all over again with a new team!

The company was quick to find another BCBA and 3 more technicians.  Then 3 months later, that BCBA left the company and so did 2 of those technicians.  At this point, it just didn’t feel right to stick it through with the same company.  If the staff didn’t have company loyalty, why would we?

So after this round of turnover, we left this company too.  I’ve seen turnover before, as a professional, but never to this extent. I also hadn’t been on the parent side of things before.  It has been extremely frustrating and disheartening.  My daughter needs consistency and deserves the best.

Progress and Celebrating the Small Steps

GBC aba is a new company, new team, and I’m growing with them as a mother and a specialist.  I am once again hopeful because my daughter likes her technicians and the BCBA is a great fit for our family.  The best news is my daughter is starting to make progress!  She attempted to say “movie”, she can now turn on the bathroom lights, she is walking next to the cart at the store, she is eating with a spoon and is starting to learn how to use her AAC device to communicate! These may seem like small achievements to some, but to us they are huge! Every small step is one step closer to a better future for my daughter.  One step closer to more independence and a transformed life.  All this is possible because of #ABA.

Top 5 Outdoor Activities for Children with Autism

Here are the top 5 outdoor activities you can do with your whole family before summer ends with some tips on how to help your child with Autism be successful and have fun!

#5 Theme Parks

While theme parks are expensive, loud, and often over-crowded this time of year, an instant cocktail for sensory overload, there are ways your child with Autism can enjoy and have fun, too!  Call your local theme park or look on their website to see if they offer disability waivers, passes, or other accommodations.  Many theme parks (e.g. @Disneyland, @WaltDisneyWorld, @SixFlags) now are more accessible by offering accommodations like low wait times, front of the line passes, quiet hours, quiet rooms, diet or allergy-friendly menus, or allowing strollers to be used like wheelchairs.  While you do not need to tell the park your child’s specific disability, this would be a violation of Americans with Disabilities Act (#ADA), you might need a doctor’s note stating they require accommodations.  Do your homework before arriving at the park, so you are prepared.

When at the park watch your child and be sensitive to their needs.  Be prepared with favorite snacks, calming or soothing items (favorite blankets, toys, fidgets), noise cancelling head phones, iPad or tablets, and other favorite activities they can use while waiting in lines. When your child seems, overwhelmed, find a corner or quiet, less crowded area to allow them to recompose themselves, then return to the fun.

#4 Backyard Fun

Summer is a great time to break out the pop-up pools, sprinklers, water tables and sand tables.  All those kinetic sand, bubbles, goo and slime kits that your child got throughout the year are great to play with outdoors.  Less mess for you to clean up and fun for them! If you have room, you can set up a trampoline, swings, or hammocks.

If you have a runner/wanderer, keep a close eye on your child, stay within an arm’s reach, or try to schedule outdoor fun when your #ABA behavior technician or therapist is with you. This is a great time to practice those safety instructions: wait, come here, stop, stay in the boundaries.  If you don’t have a fence, set up cones or barriers for your child to know how far they can travel before they need to ask permission to leave the area.

#3 Splash Pads or Spray Parks

There are often some great local splash pads that are free or inexpensive to enjoy! You can search your county for local splash pads and spray parks.  Most are open through Memorial Day weekend. Your kids can get soaked by standing under the water towers, spray cannons, or buckets.  Come prepared with towels, swimsuits, sunscreen, and water shoes.  Most will allow you to bring outside toys for water play. water at most splash pads and spray parks are usually only 1-2 ft. deep. Splash around, cool off and enjoy the sun!

#2 Playgrounds

Local parks and playgrounds are great this time of year! Especially when you are needing to get out of the house, but don’t want to spend a lot of money. While there, you can practice the safety skills mentioned above, communication or social skills goals your child may have.  Your children can get their energy out, be social and have fun.

#1 Pools:

This is my favorite, both as an Autism mom and therapist!  Both private and public pools are a wonderful way to enjoy the summer sun, stay cool and have fun! It is so easy to spend hours in the pool! It seems like most children and adults with autism love the water.

While we love to watch our children having fun, we also have to be extra cautious around water.  Drowning is the leading cause of death for kids with ASD, this may be due to the tendency for children with autism to wander off and when they wander, they are drawn to water.  Check out these water safety tips to be prepared.  Ask your local pool if they offer private swim lessons or group lessons for children with special needs.  Many special recreation associations also offer swimming lessons.  Do your research, be prepared, but most of all have fun!

Last Days of Summer

Before you pack your kids to get on the bus for the first day of school this fall, take advantage of some of these ideas with the last few days of summer!