What is ABA?
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is simply the application of behavioral principles, to everyday situations, that will, over time, increase or decrease target behaviors. ABA has been used to help individuals acquire many different skills, such as language skills, self-help skills, and play skills; in addition, these principles can help to decrease maladaptive behavior such as aggression, self-stimulatory behaviors, and self-injury. Applied Behavior Analysis has been cited as the most common treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders, with over 40 years of research behind its effectiveness. ABA relies on the collection and analysis of data on a frequent basis to program individualized goals and treatment procedures for each client. Treatment procedures include the manipulation of rewards and consequences in a structured way to increase appropriate or replacement behaviors. By breaking skills down into small steps, children have more opportunities to be successful, earn rewards, and increase the rate of learning.
What does a typical ABA session look like?
ABA therapy sessions are typically two hours in length. However, this can vary based on the individual’s age, schedule, school placement, and needs. Session begins with the therapist reviewing notes and data from previous sessions. Based on that information the therapist determines the order of the learning tasks for the session. Then the therapist begins by having the individual choose a preferred item or activity they want to do. Then the therapist works with the individual on learning tasks and provides access to the chosen preferred item or activity for correct responses and appropriate behavior. This pattern of work tasks and preferred items continues throughout the session. During learning tasks the therapist will collect data on the individuals responses to learning tasks and interventions. At the end of the session the therapist will graph this information and write some brief notes about the session.
Who provides ABA therapy?
ABA therapy is different from other therapies (i.e. Speech, OT, PT) in that it has a two tier service delivery model. Assessments, program writing, selection of learning tasks, training, and data analysis are provided by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Direct care services including teaching, graphing, and sometimes parent training are provided by Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) or behavior therapists.
What type of qualifications should I look for in an ABA provider?
According to the BACB®:
The Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®) is a graduate-level certification in behavior analysis. Professionals who are certified at the BCBA level are independent practitioners who provide behavior-analytic services. In addition, BCBAs supervise the work of Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts, Registered Behavior Technicians, and others who implement behavior-analytic interventions.
The Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst® (BCaBA®) is an undergraduate-level certification in behavior analysis. Professionals who are certified at the BCaBA level may not practice independently, but must be supervised by someone certified at the BCBA/BCBA-D level. In addition, BCaBAs can supervise the work of Registered Behavior Technicians, and others who implement behavior-analytic interventions.
The Registered Behavior TechnicianTM (RBT®) is a paraprofessional who practices under the close, ongoing supervision of a BCBA, BCaBA, or FL-CBA. The RBT is primarily responsible for the direct implementation of behavior-analytic services. The RBT does not design intervention or assessment plans. It is the responsibility of the RBT supervisor to determine which tasks an RBT may perform as a function of his or her training, experience, and competence. The BACB certificant supervising the RBT is responsible for the work performed by the RBT on the cases they are overseeing.
At Graham Behavior Services “others who implement behavior-analytic interventions” (behavior therapists) have a minimum of a bachelors degree and 1 year experience providing ABA services in home or school settings. Most of our behavior therapists are certified teachers, social workers, or graduate students completing masters degree programs in behavior analysis.
For more information go to Behavior Analyst Certification Board® (BACB®)