Choosing the right ABA therapy provider is a very important decision for a family with a child with autism. Many key factors should be considered to make sure the provider you choose is the right fit for your child and lifestyle. This process can feel daunting but, don’t worry. We’ve compiled a list of eight questions to help you get started.
8 Questions to Ask ABA Providers
What type of training and experience do the providers have in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy?
If you are considering an early intervention center-based ABA therapy program, your child will be spending anywhere from 20 – 40 hours a week there. With your child spending so much time in the therapy center, you want to ensure that all therapists are well-trained and experienced working with young children with autism. Make sure the ABA therapy program is made up of BCBAs (Board Certified Behavior Analysts) who are graduate-level professionals in behavior analysis. They will be the ones creating your child’s treatment plan, working with the child directly at times, and supervising RBTs, (Registered Behavior Technicians) who will be the ones executing the treatment plan and analyzing data.
What will the therapy involve, how often will sessions occur, and how long will they last?
These questions are extremely important. What exactly is your child doing at the center all day? Staff at the centers should be able to provide parents with a mock schedule of how the day typically looks during your center tour. When do the children eat, is there a nap time, do children get to go outside; these are all valid things to inquire about.
The format of every center will be slightly different. However, here at Ally, our children participate in group activities such as circle time and lunch, in addition to more one on one sessions with therapists for discrete trial training or other skills in their treatment plan. Our centers offer speech and occupational therapy services as well. If your child is in need of these services in addition to ABA, frequency, and format of the sessions should be addressed. It’s extremely beneficial for parents to find an ABA provider that offers all or most of the services being sought after to make things less complicated.
What are the recommended number of hours of therapy per week?
There are both part-time and full-time centers to serve the best needs of any families seeking ABA therapy services. Numbers vary depending on who you talk to, however, according to research up to 40 hours are recommended for intensive ABA therapy. Of course, the needs of each child can differ, so it’s up to parents to consult with their diagnosing physician or pediatrician to determine if full-time therapy would be favorable.
However, ABA therapy is not a replacement for school. Once a child reaches the necessary age to enter the school system, that should become the priority; therefore affecting the amount of time available for therapy. Consult with the provider to see if they are strictly full-time, part-time, in-home, or if there are flexible offerings within the scheduling of therapy. Many families do elect to continue part-time ABA therapy once their child reaches school age.
What is the cost of the therapy?
These days, as ASD becomes more prevalent in society, most insurance plans will now cover much of the costs associated with ABA therapy. It is recommended that you consult with your insurance provider to make sure the ABA provider is in-network and to review coverage as every policy is different. Families are often responsible for standard deductibles and/or copays unique to their plan.
How does the program measure progress and outcomes?
Once therapy begins, you’ll be eager to know how your child is progressing. How a therapy center measures progress is very important. Word of mouth is great, but concrete evidence should be provided by the therapy center to show where the child was when they started and the progression over time. Ask providers how they assess a child’s skills when they first begin therapy and throughout the duration of their enrollment.
Baseline assessments are a great way to get an idea of where a child is and then BCBA’s build a plan that works to help the child catch up to neurotypical peers. How assessments are conducted is extremely important and tied to outcomes as well. Was the assessment conducted in the same place and by the same person? Asking these in-depth questions will test the knowledge of providers, and experienced therapists should be able to answer fairly easily.
How many staff members will be involved in the therapy?
The number of staff involved in your child’s therapy is critical. As we all know, children establish strong bonds with certain individuals and therapy can be much more successful when these bonds exist. A solid therapy plan will have your child working with the same group of therapists on a daily basis to establish rapport. Therapists will get to know the child better also, which yields more accurate data collection and communication with parents.
Make sure to ask the center how many therapists work with each child and how often if ever do they switch. Staff turnover within the company is another factor to look at. It is common in the field of ABA and most childcare professions do have turnover; however, if staff are coming and going so often, how will your child’s therapy be consistent?
What will the parent’s role be in the therapy?
While children will be the daily focus in their ABA therapy programming, parents play an extensive role in their success as well. It is essential for parents to be highly involved in their child’s therapy plan. A huge part of the development of a therapy plan comes from parent input, because who knows the child better than their parents, right? This is crucial so your child can start off working on the skills they need most, in addition to building on existing knowledge.
How will therapists communicate with the parent about progress and any changes that need to be made?
Effective parent-to-staff communication is necessary. A good ABA provider should always be checking in for updates and informing parents on new developments with the child. Communication should occur on a daily basis. Ask the provider what their guidelines are around informing parents of their child’s progress. How are you notified and how often does it occur, etc.
It’s mandatory that ABA providers offer parent training so that techniques and approaches working at the center can be transferred over to be used in the home setting. If the provider offers occupational and speech therapy services, make sure there are plans in place to communicate with those therapists as well.
We hope that these eight questions will provide you with a good base of what to look for and inquire about when searching for an ABA therapy provider.
Do you have a young child who is not yet enrolled in school? Check out another one of our articles to learn more about, “Early Intervention Autism Therapy”.
Give us a call at (240) 342-2666 to find out more information about Ally Behavior Centers ABA therapy and diagnostic evaluations for autism; we’d be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.