Choosing a provider
Who provides ABA services?
A board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA) provides ABA therapy services. To become a BCBA, the following is needed:
- Earn a master’s degree or PhD in psychology or behavior analysis
- Pass a national certification exam
- Seek a state license to practice (in some states)
ABA therapy programs also involve therapists, or registered behavior technicians (RBTs). These therapists are trained and supervised by the BCBA. They work directly with children and adults with autism to practice skills and work toward the individual goals written by the BCBA. You may hear them referred to by a few different names: behavioral therapists, line therapists, behavior tech, etc.
To learn more, see the Behavior Analyst Certification Board website.
What is the evidence that ABA works?
ABA is considered an evidence-based best practice treatment by the US Surgeon General and by the American Psychological Association.
“Evidence based” means that ABA has passed scientific tests of its usefulness, quality, and effectiveness. ABA therapy includes many different techniques. All of these techniques focus on antecedents (what happens before a behavior occurs) and on consequences (what happens after the behavior).
More than 20 studies have established that intensive and long-term therapy using ABA principles improves outcomes for many but not all children with autism. “Intensive” and “long term” refer to programs that provide 25 to 40 hours a week of therapy for 1 to 3 years. These studies show gains in intellectual functioning, language development, daily living skills and social functioning. Studies with adults, though fewer in number, show similar benefits.
Is ABA covered by insurance?
Sometimes. Many types of private health insurance are required to cover ABA services. This depends on what kind of insurance you have, and what state you live in. Call us, we can help determine your benefits.
All Medicaid plans must cover treatments that are medically necessary for children under the age of 21. If a doctor prescribes ABA and says it is medically necessary for your child, Medicaid must cover the cost, pending medical necessity clinical review.
Where do I find ABA services?
To get started, follow these steps:
- Speak with your pediatrician or other medical provider about ABA. They can discuss whether ABA is right for your child.
- Check whether your insurance company covers the cost of ABA therapy, and what your benefit is. We can help with this!
- Ask your child’s doctor for recommendations.
- Call the ABA provider and request an intake evaluation. Have some questions ready (see below!)
What questions should I ask?
It’s important to find an ABA provider and therapists who are a good fit for your family. The first step is for therapists to establish a good relationship with your child. If your child trusts his therapists and enjoys spending time with them, therapy will be more successful – and fun!
The following questions can help you evaluate whether a provider will be a good fit for your family. Remember to trust your instincts, as well!
- How many BCBAs do you have on staff?
- Are they licensed with the BACB and through the state?
- How many behavioral therapists do you have?
- How many therapists will be working with my child?
- What sort of training do your therapists receive? How often?
- How much direct supervision do therapists receive from BCBAs weekly?
- How do you manage safety concerns?
- What does a typical ABA session look like?
- Do you offer home-based or clinic-based therapy?
- How do you determine goals for my child? Do you consider input from parents?
- How often do you re-evaluate goals?
- How is progress evaluated?
- How many hours per week can you provide?
- Do you have a wait list?
- What type of insurance do you accept?