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.

What is ABA?

Applied Behavior Analysis

ABA is Applied Behavior Analysis, the study of human and animal behavior. ABA focuses on improving socially significant behaviors. ABA has a large research base and its methods have been proven to improve positive behaviors for its clients. ABA has been recognized as the most effective treatment for autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disorders.  

A for Applied

“Applied” means practice, rather than research or philosophy. When we take the research principles that have been proven to work and use those strategies to help our clients improve their lives, we are applying those principles and strategies in meaningful ways.

B for Behavior

Behavior in ABA stands for anything that a living organism, human or animal, does that can be observed by others.  So often we think of behavior and associate negative behaviors with that term.  When we say “behavior” in ABA, we can be discussing negative or difficult behaviors, like tantrums, yelling, swearing, stealing, but we can also be focusing on positive behaviors, like sharing, talking, waving good-bye, making a purchase.  Each of these are things an outsider can observe happening.  If we can see it, then we can take data on it. 

It may seem odd to use the word “behavior” when talking about learning to talk, play, and live as a complex social animal, but to a behavior analyst all these can be taught, as long as there are intact brain functions to learn and practice the skills. 

A for Analysis

Analysis means that we are a science, we use data to make our decisions, and we do this continually as we work with you.  When we work with your child we will take data, review the data for trends (increases, decreases, stability, or instability), and make decisions that are based on the data we observe. Most BCBAs love data.  We love looking at graphs and making data-based decisions that will help your child to learn more.

Put it all together and what you have is ABA.  ABA is about teaching our clients to learn new skills, replace behaviors of concern with more socially appropriate behaviors, and focusing on improving and increasing behaviors that will be meaningful to the client and society.

Why does my child need ABA?

Most typically developing children learn without our intervention–the world around them provides the right conditions to learn language, play, and social skills. Children learn a lot from their natural environment. Children with autism may learn less easily from the natural environment. While they have the potential to learn, depending on the child and their specific individual needs, it might take a more structured environment or a blend of structure and natural environment, for learning to occur, an environment where conditions are optimized for acquiring the same skills that typical children learn “naturally.” ABA is all about how to set up the environment to enable our kids to learn.

ABA is endorsed by U.S. Surgeon General and CDC

ABA has been endorsed by a number of state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Surgeon General and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an effective therapy for children and adults with autism spectrum disorder.

United States Surgeon General David Satcher, MD, PhD, has endorsed intensive behavioral intervention for individuals with autism. Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General states, “Thirty years of research demonstrated the efficacy of applied behavioral methods in reducing inappropriate behavior and in increasing communication, learning, and appropriate social behavior.”

The report is available on the Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General and also ordered by 1-877-9MHealth, or by writing to Mental Health, Pueblo, CO 81009.

Additional Organizations that Endorse ABA

The following organizations endorse ABA as a scientifically proven approach for treating children with autism and related disorders:

If you would like to learn more about ABA, here are some helpful resources:

Autism Speaks- Applied Behavior Analysis

BACB- PRACTICE GUIDELINES FOR ASD

If you want to learn more about GBC aba and our ABA services, please to go our website and fill out our interest form or email us at info@gbcaba.com.

Tips to Help Kids with Autism Transition Back to School

 

Fall is approaching quickly!  The air is getting cooler, the sun is setting earlier and your local supermarket is selling out of school supplies fast!

Time to prepare your child for the first day of school! What do you need to do?

Covering The Basics

Register with your local school, pay the fees, buy some fall clothes (those jeans from last year are probably ankle cut by now), visit the doctor for the health physical, buy school supplies, and stack up on lunch and snack items.

What do you need to do to prepare your child?

Some of these may be less obvious, but will definitely help your child transition through this change.

8 Easy to Follow Priming Strategies    

Priming is something most of us do naturally, without even knowing we are doing it. Priming is an antecedent-based strategy, meaning a strategy we can use BEFORE the behavior typically occurs, with hopes that it will decrease the likelihood the behavior will happen.  That was a mouthful.  Basically, antecedent strategies, like priming, are things you can do every day to help your child be more successful.  They won’t always work to decrease the behavior, but they might, plus they are just good things to do.

Priming, specifically, is a warning given in advance notifying your child of an upcoming event or change in the environment. There are many ways we can prime our children.  Here are some of the ways you can prime your child about the 1st day of school:

  • Visual schedules (make a visual schedule showing your child the routine for getting ready for school or a weekly calendar labeling when school starts)
  • Visuals (try using real photos of your child’s school, teacher, bus, classroom if you can. If you don’t have real photos available, you can use clipart.)
  • Countdowns (here is a sample Back to School Countdown Calendar)
  • Timers (set a timer to transition from a preferred activity to a less preferred activity, like getting on the bus)
  • Schedules of Reinforcement (set up a preferred item or activity your child can earn when they get on the bus or come home from school the first week)
  • First Then Boards (use a first then visual “First School, Then Home or Then Park)
  • Vocal prompts (e.g. “One more week till we go back to school”)
  • Social stories (it is best to make your child a personal social story with pictures and thoughts that they would understand, check out how to make a social story here.)

Sleep Schedules

If your family is like mine, we stay up later and sleep in during the summer.  This makes transitioning to fall schedules even harder.  Start slowly by setting alarms earlier gradually, going to bed earlier a few minutes each night. If you don’t already have one, develop a night time routine that is consistent.  Children with autism like routines and having a predictable one will help reduce anxiety or behaviors that can occur when trying to put children to bed. Making these changes will help your child get back onto a school sleep schedule.

For children that struggle with falling asleep or maintaining sleep, try no electronics an hour before, essential oils diffused (we like lavender), play soft music, dim lighting, or try a back or foot massage (use lotion or oils). Make your child’s bedroom conducive to sleep—dark, cool, quiet.  Children need 8-12 hours of sleep per day. It is very common for children and adults with autism to have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep through the night. If your child is struggling with sleep, speak to their pediatrician.  Some children benefit from over-the-counter melatonin (available in gummy, chewable, or pill forms) or other medications designed to aid sleep.

School Visits

Schedule a school visit to help prepare your child for the first day of school. Attend any scheduled meet and greets at your child’s school.  If your school doesn’t have a meet and greet scheduled, you can set up a time to meet the teacher or tour the school before school begins. Contact the office or special education coordinator to schedule these visits.  When you are there, be sure to take photos for your social stories or visuals.  You can usually get photos of teachers off the school website.

From You to Your Child’s Teacher

Coordinate with the special education case manager for your child the first IEP meeting of the year.  You can meet formally or informally to discuss any changes (e.g. medications, new skills, lost skills) before school starts or within the first 30 days of school.

Teachers are supposed to read the IEP accommodations and goals prior to the first day of school, but often they are rushed and may forget what they are reading if they have to read 10-30 IEPs, plus prepare their rooms and lessons for the 1st week of school. Help your child’s teachers out by giving them something quick they can read that highlights your child’s strengths, weaknesses, preferred items and activities, and any supports you think will be helpful. Here are a few examples of handouts you can give your child’s teachers:

 

Photos Save Memories!

Don’t forget to take a photo of your child on the first day of school.  If mornings are too hectic, do it when they come home.  You want to remember your children and all their milestones they grow and they grow so fast!

Don’t worry about smiling at the camera or even looking!  If you can get a candid shot of them looking or smiling, go for it.  If not, you’ll still love to see the photo years to come.

Some of my clients have asked that we add goals like looking at the camera on cue or smiling when someone says “smile” as a goal for listener responding.  I’ve done it and for some kids this works and for some the smile looks forced.  Personally, I love more candid shots that are true to my child, but there is nothing wrong with these goals that make a difference in your family’s and child’s life!

Reinforce Yourself

If you do any of these suggestions, you are a rock star parent!  Be proud of everything you are doing for your child. Even just reading this blog! Being a special needs parent is tough, I know from personal experience.  I plan on getting my kid on the bus the first day of school, then treating myself to a favorite latte! Treat yourself! You deserve it!

How do you prepare your child for the first day of school?