Child’s Play + Autism
What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)?
Also known as Adaptive Behavior Treatment when categorized in a medical model, ABA is most widely used in the mainstream as a method of identifying the specific needs of a patient in order to develop individualized instruction geared towards improving the symptoms of autism. This process has been proven to work as it assesses what skills the patient is lacking and initiates how they can be improved for the better. Today, ABA is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for autism. It has been endorsed by a number of state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Surgeon General. Over the last decade, the nation has seen a particularly dramatic increase in the use of ABA to help persons with autism live happy and productive lives. In particular, ABA principles and techniques can foster basic skills such as looking, listening and imitating, as well as complex skills such as reading, conversing and understanding another person’s perspective.
By its very nature, human behavior is complex. So is ASD, which affects individuals in myriad different ways. Behavior analysis is a natural science whose subject matter is individual behavior interacting dynamically with the physical and social environment. Research in basic and applied behavior analysis conducted over several decades has produced a very large array of procedures for improving socially important behaviors by changing environmental events. Designing and implementing effective ABA interventions for people with ASD therefore involves many variables. Although the Guidelines reference some quantitative treatment parameters that have been derived from research and expert opinion, they state repeatedly that all aspects of ABA interventions must be customized to the strengths, needs, preferences, and environmental circumstances of each individual client and their caregivers, and must be flexible so as to accommodate changes that occur over the course of treatment.
What kind of progress can be expected?
Competently delivered ABA intervention can help learners with autism make meaningful changes in many areas. However, changes do not typically occur quickly. Rather, most learners require intensive and ongoing instruction that builds on their step-by-step progress. Moreover, the rate of progress – like the goals of intervention – varies considerably from person to person depending on age, level of functioning, family goals and other factors.
Some learners do acquire skills quickly. But typically, this rapid progress happens in just one or two particular skill areas such as reading, while much more instruction and practice is needed to master another skill area such as interacting with peers.
When should my child begin treatment?
It is very important to provide early intervention in your child’s development in order to make the most dramatic positive impact. Since young brains are the most flexible and make the most progress, early intervention is a crucial aspect of the developmental process and might even reduce the need for any intensive care later. Child’s Play + Autism welcomes children from toddlers to teens and encourages beginning therapy as early as possible.
Types of Therapists at Child’s Play
The field of ABA has many levels of certification and education/experience requirements:
- Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) are educated at a Master’s Level in Applied Behavior Analysis, supervised concentration during training for many hundreds of hours, and must pass a certification exam and maintain continuing education in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis. The majority of insurance companies use a BCBA’s credentials as medical professionals for network services and contract directly with providers on this level. At Child’s Play, while each client officially has an assigned BCBA heading their case, our clinicians lead each child’s protocols in concert. Each of our Analysts specialize in separate and overlapping areas of learning. Some specialize in early language acquisition, while others specialize in aggressive behaviors. Still yet are those with experience in socially appropriate sexual behaviors in adolescents. Whatever your family’s needs, Child’s Play strives to have you covered. As your needs change; well, we’ve got that too.
- Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBA) are required to have a Bachelor’s Degree in an approved field, meeting the required concentration hours of the certification and supervision in their program, and also must pass a certification exam and maintain continuing education in the field of ABA. BCaBAs must work with the oversight of a BCBA, and are generally used to support and increase the number of clients a BCBA can ethically oversee at any given time. It is not uncommon to have BCaBAs providing direct care of necessary cases, especially in cases of increase aggressive or rapidly-shifting problem behavior types.
- The Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) level is a newer certification in our field, only rolled out in the late 2010s. RBT Certification requires a High School education (although many autism centers utilize staff who are college graduates in non-ABA fields) and RBTs can only work in the field when constantly overseen and supervised by a BCBA. RBTs are trained by their BCBA, fulfilling a certification credential and must pass a certification examination. RBTs cannot operate on limited supervision or on their own. Moving forward, many insurers will likely be requiring all therapist-level positions to be RBT certified, and some already do; Child’s Play is working to remain ahead of that requirement with our ongoing certification and training program at the center-based location level of care. Child’s Play designates dedicated trainers at each of its locations who’s sole purpose is to oversee ongoing staff strengthening of skill sets.
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