A child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is capable of achieving many milestones, especially with the aid of ABA Therapy. Finding the right therapist can seem overwhelming. Of course, you want someone with the right qualifications, but there are other considerations too.
A review of ABA Therapy
If your child has been diagnosed recently with ASD, you might not be familiar with ABA Therapy. We thought it might be helpful to include a rundown on this style of therapy.
ABA stands for “Applied Behavior Analysis.” Its goal is to help your child (and you) learn how to deal with the behavioral issues that are associated with ASD. It is designed to help your child develop social skills, as well as learn how to regulate his or her emotions and reactions to stressful situations.
There are seven primary goals of ABA therapy:
- Identify the behaviors you want to change
- Set goals and outcomes
- Determine how to measure progress and improvements
- Evaluate your child’s skill level at the outset of therapy
- Help your child learn new skills and coping mechanisms to avoid negative behaviors
- Review your child’s progress over time
- Determine if further therapy is necessary
5 questions to ask potential Behavior Analysts
What qualities should you consider when looking for a behavior analyst for your child? Here are five relevant questions to ask.
1. What are your qualifications as a board certified behavior analyst?
Training and qualifications are of utmost importance for a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). There are a few key points to note when looking at therapists.
At a minimum, the BCBA will have a Master’s degree, with a major in Behavioral Analysis, Psychology, Special Education, or Childhood Development. He or she should have experience as a Junior and Senior Therapist who has worked with at least 10 children on the autism spectrum. Hands-on training with an established provider in developing programs and experience in training new therapists is also recommended.
2. What about the training of the team?
You want to look at the clinic or practice as a whole, as well. The team will include a BCBA who either works directly with patients or closely supervises the staff.
Some clinics offer home visits from a BCBA, others offer in-person or teletherapy sessions. At a minimum, the BCBA will monitor progress by analyzing data regularly.
Not everyone on the team needs to be board-certified, but all direct intervention staff should be well-trained, including didactic teaching and hands-on training.
3. What happens during sessions?
Although ABA therapy is a fully-developed concept, there are different styles. Sessions can look completely different depending on the practice and even the individual therapist. Some styles are very structured, while others feature more play-based activities; all will include aspects of both.
The method used during sessions matters because one style might be more suited for your child. For instance, your child might need the consistency inherent in a structured session. More active children will thrive in an atmosphere that is centered on fun activities and games.
4. What about parental/family involvement?
One of the goals of ABA Therapy is teaching parents (and caregivers) how to deal with behavior issues. In many ways, sessions should be family affairs. The end-game is ensuring that everyone who has regular contact with your child learns intervention strategies. This way they can also reinforce skills that have been taught during sessions.
Also, the therapist should ask for your input before teaching a new self-care skill. There may be certain skills you feel would be more beneficial. They can also explain to you why they may want to teach a skill that doesn’t seem beneficial by itself.
5. How long will my child need ABA therapy?
ABA therapy is not meant to last forever but it also shouldn’t be stopped upon hitting only the first milestone. There will be a point where your child may no longer need ABA sessions. The BCBA should be able to explain how and when he/she determines that a child has “graduated”.
The skills being taught should also change over time. After all, the skills required of a 4-year old are vastly different than those of a 14-year-old. Each has different challenges, and sessions should be structured around the age and specific needs of your child at each stage.
ABA Therapy at Lumiere Children’s Therapy
Your child’s behavior can impact his/her life in numerous ways, both at school and with family and friends. Our ABA Therapy program is designed to help children with ASD learn positive behavior while teaching you how to reinforce lessons at home. Our ABA team is made up of experienced professionals trained to give your child comprehensive and efficient therapy.
We also provide other comprehensive therapies so children with a wide range of physical, emotional, and developmental conditions can achieve traditional milestones.
- Speech therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Developmental therapy
- Physical therapy
- Social work
- Early intervention
Lumiere Children’s Therapy is a full-service, multidisciplinary pediatric therapy practice located in Chicago that serves the developmental needs of children from birth to 18 years of age. Learn more about how our team of clinicians works to improve the lives of children and their families.