Autism Spectrum Disorder FAQs
What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)?
Applied Behavior Analysis or ABA is a science devoted to the understanding and improvement of human behavior. ABA is the design, implementation, and evaluation of environmental modifications to produce socially significant improvement in human behavior. ABA includes the use of direct observation, measurement, and functional analysis of the relations between the environment and the behavior. During an autism spectrum disorder treatment program, the principles of ABA can be utilized to teach new skills, shape existing behaviors into new ones, and reduce the frequency of problem behaviors.
How Do I Start Services? What Happens Next?
As soon as possible, you should contact a clinical professional at Ascend Autism Group. Then, we will set-up an initial consultation. For this meeting, you should be prepared to answer several specific questions about your child and your family. This information will assist the BCBA in developing the most appropriate treatment plan.
The BCBA will determine which assessments are the most appropriate for your child. A blend of 1:1 direct assessments, observations, data collection, and interview-based assessments will determine the treatment plan. Depending on your availability, we estimate all assessments and the initial draft of the treatment plan will take 10-20 days to complete. Once all assessments are complete, the BCBA will develop a comprehensive treatment plan. Included in this will be assessment results, treatment goals, therapy schedule, as well as teaching procedures and data templates used to track progress during therapy. Then, the BCBA will schedule a meeting with the family/caregivers to review the treatment plan and make any final tweaks. Following that meeting, therapy will begin as soon as possible.
Usually, direct 1:1 Applied Behavior Analysis therapy performed via experience technicians or RBTs (Registered Behavior Technicians). The BCBAs are also intimately involved with all of the programming and treatment planning evaluation for tweaks and improvements. Throughout therapy, the entire team will provide updates and feedback regarding your child’s progress. Generally, the BCBA will set-up monthly meetings to provide formal updates regarding progress and the treatment plan, as well as implement family training.
How Long Do Children Typically Need ABA Therapy?
There is not a standard length of therapy recommended for every person. Instead, need is determined on an individual basis by the BCBA and treatment team working directly with the child and family. ABA is an on-going therapy that can grow with your child catering to their ever-changing needs as they continue to grow older. Although, some people may utilize ABA therapy for less than one year and some may utilize ABA therapy for 10+ years.
How Long Will It Take to See Results? What are the Outcomes?
Similar to the above question, there is no single correct answer for how long it will take to see improved outcomes from Applied Behavior Analysis therapy. ABA is considered an evidence-based practice (“EBP”) treatment by the U.S. Surgeon General and by the American Psychological Association. More than 20 studies have established that intensive and long-term therapy using ABA principles improves outcomes for many, but not all children with ASD. “Intensive” and “long-term” refer to programs providing 25-40 hours per week of therapy for 1-3 years. These studies show gains in language development, social functioning, intellectual functioning, and daily living skills. Studies with adults show similar results.
What is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)?
A BCBA is an individual with expertise in the field of behavior analysis who is responsible for designing targeted intervention and assessment plans while overseeing Registered Behavior Technicians (“RBTs”) and other therapists. All BCBAs are required to possess a Master’s Degree in ABA, Psychology, or Education. They are also required to complete over 1,500 hours of direct fieldwork with ABA programs spending about 50% of those hours learning how to work on ABA programming and data analysis. During the fieldwork, existing BCBAs supervise BCBAs in training helping guide them through their fieldwork. After all coursework and fieldwork are complete, BCBAs are required to pass the BCBA examination through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation established in 1998 to meet professional credentialing needs identified by behavior analysts, governments, and consumers of behavior analysis services.
What is a Behavior Technician (BT) or Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)?
A BT or RBT is primarily responsible for the direct implementation of behavior-analytic services and practices under the close supervision of a BCBA. Behavior Techs typically work one-on-one with the child in therapy sessions but do not design the intervention or assessment plans. Following successful performance as a BT, many pursue the advanced step of becoming an RBT. RBT is a nationally recognized certification from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). To achieve the certification, one must complete 40-hours of training, pass a competency assessment, and a proctored exam. After receiving the certification, an RBT is cleared to work with children with ASD. RBTs are required to complete annual competency assessments to maintain their credentials.