ABA 101: WHAT IS ABA?
WHAT IS ABA?
Applied Behavior Analysis:
A way of identifying the conditions in which behaviors happen
Focus is to change the conditions
And teach new ways to get the same thing done
WHAT ARE THE SEVEN DIMENSIONS OF ABA?
Behavioral: Applied interventions deal with measurable behavior (or reports if they can be validated).
Analytic: Applied interventions require an objective demonstration that the procedures caused the effect.
Technological: Applied interventions are described well enough that they can be implemented by anyone with training and resources.
Conceptually Systematic: Applied interventions arise from a specific and identifiable theoretical base rather than being a set of packages or tricks.
Applied: Applied interventions deal with problems of demonstrated social importance.
Generality: Applied interventions are designed from the outset to operate in new environments and continue after the formal treatments have ended.
Effective: Applied interventions produce strong, socially important effects.
ABA is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for many diagnoses and all ages. It is an evidenced based intervention with ample research supporting it's efficacy. ABA has been endorsed by a number of state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Surgeon General and the New York State Department of Health. Over the last decade, the nation has seen a particularly dramatic increase in the use of ABA to help people live happy and productive lives. In particular, ABA principles and techniques can foster basic skills such as looking, listening and imitating, as well as complex skills such as reading, conversing and understanding another person’s perspective.
QUESTIONS TO ASK A PROSPECTIVE ABA PROVIDER
As cited by Lindsey Snider from Exceptional Lives
1. DO YOU HAVE BOARD CERTIFIED BEHAVIOR ANALYSTS (BCBAS) ON STAFF?
BCBAs are specially trained to develop, implement, and manage ABA cases. ABA is very technical – it is important that the person in charge of your child’s treatment is qualified. At 7D, every case has a BCBA assigned to oversee it.
2. WILL MY CHILD’S CASE BE MANAGED DIRECTLY BY A BCBA?
Watch out for companies that have non-BCBAs managing cases. This is often a sign of a company asking their BCBAs to manage a high number of cases. Because they are so busy, the amount of time that the expert has to work with your child is limited. Additionally, “BCBA Candidate” is not an official title or recognized qualification.
3. WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF CASES MANAGED BY ONE BCBA?
BCBAs that manage more than 10-15 cases may have trouble providing enough staff supervision and parent training. At 7D, our caseloads are maximum 7-10 clients.
4. HOW IS PARENT TRAINING PROVIDED?
Many insurance companies ask parents to get involved with treatment. Look for a BCBA that will provide monthly training in person and, when needed, will practice with you. At 7D, we provide monthly parent training at a minimum. Parent training frequency is determined by family and client need and can occur up to 2 times per week.
5. WHAT TRAINING DOES YOUR DIRECT-LEVEL STAFF (PARAPROFESSIONALS, ABA THERAPISTS OR TUTORS, ETC.) RECEIVE PRIOR TO WORKING WITH CLIENTS?
It’s common for people to join this area of work at the direct level with little to no experience. It is very important that they a) receive ABA-specific training prior to working with a client, and b) complete extra workshops and training to build their skills. All direct care staff will have completed 40 hours of training modules, in person training, and receive field overlaps prior to running sessions on their own.
6. HOW MUCH ON-SITE TRAINING AND SUPERVISION WILL DIRECT-LEVEL STAFF RECEIVE PRIOR TO RUNNING SESSIONS INDEPENDENTLY WITH MY CHILD?
EVERY child is different and so every ABA treatment plan is different. No direct-level staff should start working with a new client without some on-the-job training (known as “overlaps”). This is done with either the supervising BCBA or another direct-level staff that has already worked with that specific client.
7. HOW OFTEN DO STAFF MEET WITH THEIR SUPERVISORS?
Your child’s BCBA should provide staff supervision for at least 5% of the staff's total hours. This makes sure that the program’s goals are being met.
8. WHAT IS THE AVERAGE NUMBER OF ABA PROGRAMS RUN IN A TYPICAL 3-HOUR SESSION?
On average, expect staff to get through at least 10 ABA programs within a 3-hour session. Anything less may be a sign of poor training or lack of understanding of the importance of “high-intensity” (repetitive & fast-paced) teaching to take advantage of neuroplasticity in the human brain (the brain’s ability to change its structure in response to what it experiences).
9. ARE PARENTS ALLOWED TO JOIN OR WATCH AN ABA SESSION?
The answer to this should ALWAYS be “YES!” The goal should be for parents to learn as much as possible so that they can do the ABA strategies themselves. The only catch to this rule is if the child is too distracted by having the parent there. Even then the parent should watch from a spot where the child cannot see them.
10. HOW MANY DIRECT STAFF WILL WORK WITH MY CHILD?
Look for companies that will place at least 2 direct-level staff with your child. For children with autism, having more than one staff member teaching your child a skill helps increase the chances your child will learn the skill and keep it. At 7D, the recommendation for number of staff on the team will be determined by the assessment findings and recommended treatment format.