ABA programs are highly individualized to best suit the needs of the learner. The skills and behaviors targeted in any given ABA program will depend on many factors such as the age and diagnosis of the learner, specific challenging behaviors, skill strengths and deficits, and location of services (e.g. school or home). While no two ABA programs will look the same, there are some general components that families and learners can expect from ABA therapy.
After the assessment is complete, and your funding source has provided authorization for ABA services, your provider will assign a team for your child. This team will include a Supervisor (typically a BCBA) and one or several Behavior Technicians. Expect to receive a schedule of services before the beginning of each month. Additionally, expect your ABA provider to reach out to you to receive your availability for services and to create a schedule that best fits your loved one’s needs.
Particularly in the early stages of the program, rapport building is essential. The staff assigned to work on your child’s team should strive to build a positive relationship with your loved one. Not only is this rapport building important at the beginning of services, it should be maintained throughout the duration of the program. Therefore, families can expect the first couple weeks of ABA therapy to include a lot of play and conversation with their child. Simply put, your child should feel comfortable and have fun with the Behavior Technicians. This helps ensure that your child associates positive experiences with the Behavior Technicians. This also helps with learning rates and ultimately produces more desirable outcomes.
Expect collaboration and communication from your ABA team. The Supervisor on your team should communicate with you to make sure your questions and goal preferences are addressed. Additionally, with your permission, the Supervisor may ask to get in contact with your child’s other service providers (speech therapists, school teachers, etc.) so that coordination of care can be established and that everyone is working collectively toward the same goals.
Depending on the approach used by a particular ABA provider and on the location of where services are provided, you can typically expect Behavior Technicians to work one-on-one with your child. The length of these sessions may vary based on your availability and schedule, but it is typical for in-home or in-clinic sessions to last about 2-3 hours (sometimes more or less depending on individual factors). This session time is where skill acquisition goals are targeted and the Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) is implemented. The skill acquisition goals will be identified during the assessment process, before ABA therapy begins. These goals may include skills in the socialization, play, communication, academic, and other domains. Similarly, the BIP which was also designed during the assessment process, will be implemented by the team to reduce your child’s challenging behaviors and replace them with socially appropriate, desirable alternative behaviors. Both, skill acquisition goals and the BIP should constantly be evaluated and modified by the Supervisor or BCBA who manages your child’s case to ensure they are clinically relevant and up-to-date.
Parents and caregivers should also expect overlaps and team meetings. These are designated times throughout the month where the Supervisor observes one or all members of your child’s ABA team to ensure the treatment is being executed correctly and to address any concerns or questions that may arise. These overlaps and team meetings are imperative as they help ensure treatment consistency, progress, relevancy, and communication between all members of your child’s ABA team.