We are passionate about behavior analysis. However, providers across the field are just as different from one another as the children they serve. This field does not have a uniform, cookie-cutter formula for treatment. Quite the opposite, each provider you meet will have their own way to approach the science of behavior. Sometimes the provider will align with your needs and sometimes they will not. Just remember, you are the expert for your child!
As a parent of a child with Autism or an individual with autism, here are some considerations:
Consideration 1- Before you start services
Do take the time to go and visit. Ask all of the questions you want. If there are other parents or individuals there, look at their cues. How are people interacting?
Do be mindful that ABA is a medical field and is obligated to adhere to HIPAA constraints. They may not be able to allow you to see others in the center due to these constraints. Don’t hold that against them but do ask if you will be able to participate, observe, and/or interact with your child during their session.
Some ABA companies provide home-based services only and do not have a center. Our opinion is that, in general, this leads to a lower intensity of supervision and support for the behavior technician. We opt to not follow that model, but some do and do it well. Additionally, some companies have the BCBA directly implementing the services in the home. In that case, we support the model. That BCBA is likely capable of handling any behaviors that may arise in the home where a technician may be ill-prepared.
Before services start, your provider should go over a document about what their obligations are and what your commitments are. Make sure to read this document and ask questions.
Consideration 2- Services have started
Do trust yourself. Many of our clients are unable to fully communicate what they are experiencing and this can be concerning to a parent: the unknown. You should be welcome to participate or observe your child. If you can’t and it makes you uncomfortable, do speak to the BCBA.
Do observe your child. Your child should be interested in going to the center (or seeing the provider arrive at the home). Now there are probably times where they would rather be home, playing on a tablet. However, if they don’t have open access to high preference items, they should be at least interested in starting an ABA session. If not, do question why and have a conversation with the BCBA.
Do review session notes and EOBs. You should be aware of what is happening in and being billed for your child’s ABA services. There are a lot of misconceptions in the ABA billing world. Most providers adhere to ethical and correct billing practices, some create errors or misunderstand the rules, and a few are intentionally dishonest. It is best practice for you to review the documents and know what is going on with your child’s account behind the scenes.
Consideration 3- Terminating services
It is okay to terminate services if you feel they are ineffective or simply not working out for any reason. You may adore some of the individuals on your team and not others. You may have a schedule change that cannot be accommodated. You may decide that your child does not appear to be enjoying the services at all. These are valid concerns and you have the right to do what you feel is right for your child (or yourself!)
Do talk it out. We suggest a conversation; open communication can sometimes solve the biggest problems.
Do review that onboarding document to find out processes for service termination or transition. Most providers would be willing to provide a list of other providers if it is simply not a good fit. Sometimes these things happen.
Do ask for the most recent behavior and/or discharge plan. This document can help with the transition to new services (ABA or otherwise) and should encompass a summary of your child’s progress. Some providers separate the behavior plan and the discharge plan, while others combine them.