When seeking Applied Behavior Analysis or ABA therapy for your child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you must select a program that includes treatment plans established by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) to ensure your child receives suitable and effective treatment.
While currently no cure for autism exists, approaches like ABA therapy can make a massive difference in the lives of many children touched by neurodiversity, leading to improved developmental outcomes.
BCBAs are essential in ensuring your child’s treatment plan is meaningful and relevant to their life goals. Additionally, they support families through their child’s development to create better days for everyone.
What Role Does a BCBA Play in a Child’s ABA Therapy Program?
A BCBA will oversee your child’s comprehensive ABA treatment plan. In most cases, the BCBA working with your child will have observed their behaviors directly in addition to reviewing their case history and all necessary documentation. Your BCBA will also work with you as caregivers alongside your child’s ABA treatment team to ensure they progress and reach milestones. Coordination ensures everyone on the team understands all aspects of your child’s experience.
Additionally, BCBAs may consult with other providers like speech pathologists, educators, counselors, occupational therapists, and physical therapists on goals. BCBAs will teach children skills related to daily living, adaptive functioning, and expression that facilitate independence and participation. Furthermore, BCBAs have expert knowledge in designing interventions that minimize and redirect challenging behaviors that can make learning more difficult.
In many cases, BCBAs become some of your child’s most vigorous advocates and teach them how to one day advocate for themselves to become their best. These analysts carefully ensure your child can access every opportunity for success.
How Does A BCBA Obtain a License?
Becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst is challenging and takes years. The profession requires a bachelor’s and master’s degree in a related field like psychology, special education, child development, or ABA. Additionally, BCBAs endure over a thousand supervision hours in addition to passing an exam designed by BACB or the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. All these steps eventually lead to official licensure as a BCBA.
ABA degree programs are often rigorous and overseen by a BCBA and other psychological experts to ensure that training and interventions are ethical and clearly understood. To remain licensed BCBAs must recertify with the BACB every two years and stay current on continuing education units. At all times, BCBAs must comply with the ethical requirements of their industry and observe all standards required by the Board.
Becoming a BCBA requires a passion for serving others and curiosity to understand behavior and improve outcomes for complex populations.
How Many BCBAs Are Actively Working?
As of April 3, 2023, the United States has 61,337 BCBAs. This number has continued to increase each year since 2013. This increase in BCBAs means more people with autism can access the essential services they need to improve the quality of their (and their families) life.
What Is an Average Day for A BCBA?
Every day is different when you work as a BCBA. Depending on the needs of each client, BCBAs utilize various ABA techniques to reach people with varying degrees of impairment. While your BCBA probably won’t attend every ABA session, they constantly communicate with your child’s Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) to ensure sessions are practical and running smoothly.
When not working with clients hands-on, BCBAs spend time assessing data and graphing results in a way that’s easy to understand, measure and explain. Based on the collected data, patterns it reveals, and live observations, your BCBA will continuously refine your child’s ABA therapy.
By making careful considerations that include environmental factors, and current developmental levels, your BCBA will do the hard work necessary to figure out the optimal way to reach your child so they can flourish in various settings naturally.
Through ABA therapy and an expert understanding of autism, BCBAs help clients improve many areas of their life. Clients learn to identify and minimize triggers, communicate, and strive for autonomy.
What is ABA Therapy or Applied Behavior Analysis?
Applied Behavior Analysis is an aspect of psychology that utilizes the principles of behavior to promote learning systematically to modify behavior over time. This evidence-based practice is used extensively in special education and with neurodivergent individuals.
A BCBA uses ABA therapy to work with clients through powerful, effective interventions like positive reinforcement and redirection. These techniques, among others, increase desired behavioral outcomes that promote positive change.
Previously, ABA therapy focused on concepts like “consequences,” which differs from punishment. Consequences are the result of our actions or behaviors. For example, suppose a child who struggles to sit for 15 minutes during circle time appropriately demonstrates that he can. In that case, ABA practitioners will reward and reinforce this behavior with “consequences” like praise, tangibles, or highly preferred activities. While the term consequence is used less and less in ABA therapy, practitioners still reward positive actions with gratifying reinforcement that creates lasting associations.
An additional aspect of what makes ABA therapy so effective is that it addresses real-life issues specific to every client. A primary principle of ABA is that it endorses “socially valid” interventions. If treatment isn’t socially significant or valuable, it will not ultimately benefit the child. For any intervention to be considered “socially valid” or helpful, it must produce meaningful results that improve an individual’s ability to navigate their environment.
BCBAs work hard to understand and address behavior rather than judge or “stop it” without comprehending its purpose. Incorporating socially valid intervention ensures clients advance towards their goals and improve their behavior without bias.
In addition to establishing pertinent goals through observation and review, your BCBA will also include your input as a parent when designing your child’s plan. With careful attention to every detail, BCBAs communicate with caregivers to ensure the child’s environment and routine are appropriate to their development, avoiding unnecessary triggers. By including the entire family in a child’s ABA program BCBAs also help to improve relationships and family life.
Where Are Most BCBAs Employed?
Many BCBAs work for established ABA therapy agencies and autism service centers. Additionally, BCBAs often work in schools, clinics, and residential settings.
BCBAs are often on staff or contracted to consult on student behavioral concerns in schools. Within clinics or residential treatment settings, BCBAs offer support, including data collection and behavioral plans. In many cases, BCBAs also work in-home or at centers doing ABA therapy with neurodivergent clients.
While these may be the primary settings that employ BCBAs, this work is diverse. It can lend itself to other industries to promote positive change.
Where Can I Learn More About ABA Therapy?
Every individual with autism spectrum disorder is uniquely affected, and no two behavioral plans will ever be the same. Some typical challenges individuals on the spectrum face include difficulties communicating, participating, and completing daily living skills. ABA therapy can address all these issues and more.
If your loved one is on the spectrum and may benefit from ABA therapy, schedule a consultation with an established ABA agency or expert BCBA to explore your treatment options today. A simple call can help you determine if ABA therapy is the best help for your child and family.
Whether your child requires a complete ABA program or you would like to schedule a few parent trainings, working with a BCBA experienced in autism can be life-changing.
Contact us at ABA Centers of Pennsylvania for a free consultation to discuss your ABA therapy options. Call us at (844) 444-7496 or visit here with any questions.