By: Alyssa Joyce, MS, BCBA and Lauren Fernandez, BA
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is an evidence-based therapy that is deemed a treatment for individuals diagnosed with Autism by the US Surgeon General and by the American Psychological Association. Due to the data driven backing of ABA therapy, it is important to find an ABA provider that is both a great fit for your child and family, as well as a provider that truly understands the science of learning and behavior (Baer, D. M., Wolf, M. M., & Risley, T. R.1968). It is crucial to remember that quality of service is directly linked to the quality of the provider. Unfortunately, finding the “perfect” provider can be difficult. Below are several key factors and/or skills that caregivers should be on the lookout for when choosing a provider.
What an ABA Therapy Provider Should Have Clinically
When it comes to your child, “good” is not good enough. That is why, clinically, a provider should have four strong essential qualities; Credentials, Training, Staffing and Scope of Practice. The very first key ingredient that is necessary to outstanding ABA service is the credentials of the agency as a whole. Caregivers should seek a provider that abides by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s Professional Ethical Compliance Code and Guidelines for Responsible Conduct (Carr, J. E., & Nosik, M. R.2017). It is also imperative for the agency to comply with all local, state, and federal laws with regards to the provision of services. Another, highly sought after, achievement that professional providers should hold is the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence® Accreditation (BHCOE®). The BHCOE international accreditation is awarded to agencies, like Attentive Behavior Care, that display and have met an assortment of clinical and administrative standards according to a qualified third-party evaluator.
Like stated earlier, training and staffing are two ingredients that go hand and hand when choosing an ABA provider. Apart from the agency as a whole, individuals who are administering direct care and supervision for ABA services must have their own individual credentials. Team members working with your child must include a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA®), Behavior technician (some states require a Registered Behavior Technician certification), and usually includes a case coordinator. In order to practice as a BCBA®, the individual has to obtain a master’s degree from an accredited institution completing specific coursework related to the field of Applied Behavior Analysis, have a minimum number of 1500 hours of supervision from a BCBA®, as well as sit and pass the BCBA® national examination. But because credentials only show that a BCBA® has passed an exam, it is important to question their personal experience and ask about the agency’s training program/continuing education programs. Reputable agencies, like Attentive Behavior, have a department that is dedicated to come up with and implement rigorous training programs for its staff to meet the standards of the agency.
These training programs ensure that both BCBAs® and Behavior Technicians are well rounded in all areas of ABA and are fully prepared to handle a wide variety of unique cases. ABA is an ever-changing field with new advancements made constantly, which is why continuing education programs (CUs) are also vital. Agencies that promote and support their staff attending CU conferences, meetings and events are what every parent should be looking for when it comes to who will be serving their children. Lastly, a fundamental piece to choosing the correct provider for your child has to do with scope of practice. Scope of practice refers to the techniques, procedures and protocols that BCBAs® are extensively trained in. Your child’s BCBA®, Behavior Therapist, must follow strict guidelines to ensure that your child is getting the highest quality of service possible.
What an ABA Therapy Provider Should Have Executively
Your child’s diagnosis with Autism can be scary. A provider that has both a strong Clinical team and Executive team is essential to best help you, your family and your child overcome what can be viewed as a stressful process. First, it is of most importance the agency you are interested in accepts your health insurance. Before researching which ABA provider is a best fit for your child, you must know what type of health benefit you have. Luckily, due to much advocacy, all fifty states have taken action to require some sort of ABA coverage. Some plans are “full coverage” meaning the state implements benefit regulations while others are “self-funded,” which is regulated by federal law. There are other options for families effected by Autism as well; Medicare, Marketplace Health Insurance, TRICARE, and Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program (TRICARE, 2006). Reputable ABA agencies usually have an intake department where parents can verify health benefits, discuss co-pays, ask questions, and receive plenty of information with respect to health coverage.
Most ABA agencies are home based, which data has proven to be an effective treatment for those diagnosed with Autism (Lovaas, Koegel, Simmons, & Long.,1973) But providers that truly are well rounded offer more than one location for their services. For example, Attentive Behavior offers in home ABA therapy, clinic-based therapy, group socialization sessions, and community outings. One study by Dixon, Burns, Granpeesheh, Amarasinghe, Powell, and Linstead (2014) has actually shown that individuals receiving center-based services over home-based services demonstrated higher rates of learning during treatment. This alone can demonstrate providers who offer many service locations truly know the benefits of a wide variety of service delivery forms. It is also important to ask what other evolving programs the agency coordinates; summer camps, day-programs, Early intervention programs, transition programs, etc. It is imperative to find this information about a provider early on so as your child grows there is no need to find a new agency that can support their progression.
Finding a “perfect fit” ABA agency for your child can be tough and stressful. The above traits and characteristics are great points of reference to help caregivers find an agency that provider unparalleled services. The hope for this blog was to shed light and help the decision-making process easier to meet your child and family’s needs.
- A Program Evaluation of Home and Center-Based Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Behav Anal Pract. 2016;10(3):307–312. Published 2016 Oct 25. doi:10.1007/s40617-016-0155-7
- American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Arlington, Va: American Psychiatric Association.Dixon DR, Burns CO, Granpeesheh D, Amarasinghe R, Powell A, Linstead E.
- Baer, D. M., Wolf, M. M., & Risley, T. R. (1968). Some current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1, 91-97. doi:10.1901/jaba.1968.1-91
- Behavior Analyst Certification Board. (2016). Professional and ethical compliance code for behavior analysts. Retrieved from http://bacb.com/ethics-code
- Carr, J. E., & Nosik, M. R. (2017). Professional Credentialing of Practicing Behavior Analysts. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 4(1), 3–8.8© 2019 Behavioral Health Center of Excellence (2015). Retrieved from https://bhcoe.org
- Lovaas OI, Koegel R, Simmons JQ, Long JS. Some generalization and follow-up measures on autistic children in behavior therapy. J Appl Behav Anal. 1973;6(1):131–165. doi:10.1901/jaba.1973.6-131
- TRICARE. (2016). Autism care demonstration. Retrieved from http://tricare.mil/Plans/SpecialPrograms/ACD
For more information about ABA therapy or how we can help your child, contact Attentive Behavior Care today.