In this article, we will provide some ideas and criteria to help you make an informed decision when choosing the right BCBA and RBT for your family. It has been said a million times, but it is worth saying again that every child with autism is different and will have unique needs, as will their family. What works for one child will not always work for another. We hope that these tips help you navigate the process of choosing your provider.
What to Look for in a BCBA
Like doctors, every Board Certified Behavior Analyst must meet the requirements of a governing body or board. In ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), it’s the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) that oversees certified ABA practitioners. Additionally, each BCBA develops a unique skill set and experiences that make them more adept at working with populations. Someone who specializes in working with adults may not be the best fit for an 18-month-old.
Also, someone who works typically with kindergarteners may not be an excellent fit for a 16-year-old boy. Therefore, understanding your BCBA’s skill set will be helpful when choosing the right BCBA and RBT. Remember, your BCBA will work closely with you and your family to bring about healthy and positive changes. You want to pick someone you like.
What to Look for in an RBT
When looking for an RBT, there are specific characteristics to keep in mind. These include compassion and empathy, which are essential for working with a child with special needs. Additionally, they must possess patience, open-mindedness, and adaptability. Because this professional may be working through tantrums and other problematic behaviors, they must be able to work under pressure. Lastly, look for dedication and perseverance.
When choosing the right BCBA and RBT, you want someone who will stay with your child through the hard stuff and the bliss. Registered Behavior Technicians are trained to understand and implement treatment programs designed by their BCBA. They observe the child while collecting valuable data. You and your child must feel comfortable with your new BCBA and RBTs.
Tips for Choosing the Right BCBA and RBT:
- Look for professional experience in the areas that require the most intervention. For instance, if your child is scripting (repeating phrases) a lot, look for a BCBA with echolalia. Do not be afraid to ask many questions to ensure the BCBA and RBT have the skills to support your child. Also, inquire about the ages the BCBA and RBT have the most experience working with. Additionally, you may want to ask about the level and intensity of autism they have experienced in the past.
- Trust your instincts. How does this person make you feel? What do you think of their communication style? Do they seem like someone your child would like to work with? Building trust and rapport are fundamental for a good relationship between BCBA and child. The BCBA and RBT will guide your child through a customized plan, and there may be challenging times. Explain any concerns you may have regarding high-intensity situations. Consider the BCBA’s style. Some are very hands-on, while others are more conversational. Remember, the most progress can be made when you build a collaborative relationship with your BCBA and RBT.
- Consider how your BCBA and RBT answer your questions. Are they easy to understand? A good BCBA will use terms you know and introduce you to innovative ideas in an understandable way. They should always be able to provide you with examples. While your behavioral plan will look technical, your conversations with your providers should not. Your BCBA should always use concepts that are relatable to you in a way you can understand.
- Are the BCBA and RBT working well together? Remember, they make up a huge part of your child’s team. Additionally, you may have an occupational therapist, speech therapist, physical therapist, teacher, or others. How is your BCBA collaborating with them? Your child may also have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Are the BCBA and RBT helping it along? The BCBA working with your family should meet with the RBT outside your scheduled hours to discuss your child. This supervision maintains the consistency and integrity of the program.
- Inquire about how accessible your BCBA and RBT will be. Ask them about good times to check in. Typically, a BCBA oversees one or more behavioral interventions assigned to your child’s plan. RBTs will execute the plan with the family under the supervision of the BCBA. BCBAs must be present with the child 1 hour out of every 10. Ensure that you feel comfortable corresponding with the RBT and BCBA. Ask about the best times for phone calls, email, or texts. Let them know that communication is something your family values.
Why Is Choosing the Right BCBA and RBT Important?
While ABA therapy is effective and powerful, it can be less so if the relationship between the family and the provider is not great. That is why picking a provider you have an excellent dialogue with is vital. Choose someone you can trust in the trenches who will see your child through their very worst and still show up the next day ready to play and have a fresh start. Choosing the right BCBA and RBT as providers can make all the difference in the effectiveness of ABA therapy.
Parents are starting to recognize the importance of early intervention and ABA therapy as new science surrounding autism treatment comes to light. Once you have decided to go the ABA route, you must consider which agency you will trust to conduct the ABA therapy with your child. With excellent centers multiplying all over the United States, parents have more options than ever. Because every center and provider will use a different approach, choosing the right BCBA and RBT can be challenging.
What Is ABA Therapy?
ABA or Applied Behavior Analysis is a field of study devoted to improving the quality of an individual’s life by changing environmental conditions. These changes are supported by data and result in socially meaningful improvements to the person’s life. Professionals in Applied Behavior Analysis work with behavioral principles to address behavioral needs in widely varying settings. Examples of these applications include acquiring skills and developing abilities over time.
When choosing the right BCBA and RBT, review the information provided by agencies and individuals providing ABA therapy. At the same time, read the information presented by non-providers to obtain a balanced perspective. Recognize that ABA is not 40 hours of a child sitting in one-on-one instruction at a desk practicing a rote language. This is too often the image of ABA people have in their heads.
Even the most intensive treatment will include natural-setting teaching mixed with fun activities that foster growth. The idea is to acquire skills throughout the individual’s lifetime so that new skills can build on one another. The intensity and level of the therapy will be determined by the child’s needs.
What ABA Is Not!
ABA is more than just discrete trial training or other methods you might have heard of. It includes a range of strategies like reinforcement, chaining, shaping, and imitation. Most ABA therapy will occur in a clinic, school, or home setting. The goals and curriculum will be different for every child. In a clinical setting, the focus will be on treatment, precisely the neurological condition of autism. The emphasis will be on learning and achieving school readiness in an educational setting. At home, the child may learn to read books or find ways to keep busy.
Remember, ABA therapy is not a one-size-fits-all program. The experience will be 100% unique for the child. Expect your child’s treatment to be individualized and comprehensive. The skills your child is learning should be working toward independence in everyday life.
Choosing the Right BCBA and RBT Is Not an Easy Task
The BCBA and RBT working on your child’s team are essential members of your child’s overall team. It is vital that they are skilled, collaborative, and have excellent communication skills.
BCBAs and RBTs can become influential figures in a child’s life. You must be sure you are working with professionals who understand and want to help your child grow. Ensure that the professionals you have been assigned have prior experience working with a child like yours. If they are new to the field, ensure they are enthusiastic about learning! They will be making developmental changes in your child’s life.
Not all providers are the same, just as different agencies may have varied methods. When choosing the right BCBA and RBT, look for the one most aligned with your family’s needs and values. While it will take some time to make a connection, if things still seem awkward after two weeks, consider asking your agency for a new provider. Your child is the priority, and progress is essential.
RBTs and BCBAs at ABA Centers of America
At ABA Centers of America, our highest priority is to employ the best RBTs and BCBAs we can find. We care about the continuing education and development of the professionals we hire. We look for individuals with patience, compassion, and enthusiasm for the science of autism. Our BCBAs and RBTs go beyond to ensure your child’s needs are met and that families feel supported by our services. Questions about choosing the right BCBA and RBT? For more information about ABA Centers of America and how we can help your child flourish, give us a call at 844-923-4222 or visit us at abacenters.com.