News and Notes from The Johnson Center

Q & A: No ABA providers work near us. What should we do?

JCCHD | Thu, September 27, 2012 | [Applied Behavior Analysis][Autism Treatment][Q and A ]

Teacher & StudentThe first step is to check with the providers who are in your larger region, to see if they can provide a long-distance program. These are often called workshop services.  Workshop services at The Johnson Center involve a BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) helping family members hire and train their own local therapists so that they can provide in-home ABA with ongoing support from the BCBA (i.e., visits, email, video review of sessions, or video conferencing).  Ideal candidates are college students studying autism, ABA, or a related field (Special Education, Speech-Language Pathology, Psychology, etc) who can work part-time in your home or child’s school.  An option for a mid-level consultant or lead therapist would be a BCaBA (Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst).  A BCaBA will have coursework and experience related to ABA and will be seeking their BCBA.  They can be responsible for communication between therapists and the BCBA.

In the case of workshop services, the BCBA will create individualized programs and will also conduct regular trainings for the therapists and families regarding your child’s specific ABA program.  These meetings can be done in person or via software on your computer, depending on scheduling and travel constraints. Skype is free video-conferencing software (free computer to computer, and not on cellular networks, i.e. free only via the internet) that allows a supervisor to talk to team members and parents virtually face-to-face.  Skype software can also be a great way for the BCBA to observe people on your end, in real-time, providing immediate feedback, redirection, and reinforcement.

Another option for a remote ABA program is an online tool that has a variety of services, including assessment, curricula, and treatment planning.  These data sheets, guidelines, instructions, training information, and IEP lesson plans are paid for with an ongoing monthly fee.  With online services, supervision and oversight are not part of the “package,” so it is important to find a trained professional such as a BCBA to oversee your implementation of the tools in order to ensure that appropriate services are provided.

In order for any of these remote interventions to be successful, you will need a qualified (BCBA) supervisor with whom you and your team can effectively and efficiently communicate.  This is the best way to overcome the distance obstacle.  Keep in mind that technology will not always work properly, so try to have a backup option available—for instance, if Skype isn’t working properly, a phone might have to suffice until the computer is up and working properly again. Your supervisor can set training benchmarks for your therapist team, to ensure that they are learning and progressing with their ABA abilities.  This will help keep your therapy team strong, so that you’re confident that qualified people are providing services for your child.

It is important to set professional boundaries early in your relationship with your therapists. Therapists are there to provide services for your child, and without a supervisor onsite, it is possible for issues to arise.  Talk to your supervisor and set specific boundaries for your home team.  Is it ok for them to get a snack from the fridge while they are working? What is the procedure for logging their time, and what do they do if their schedule changes? Is it okay for them to talk to you about their personal lives while they are on the clock? Is that okay when they’re off the clock?  What you want to prevent is the risk that the therapist’s quality of service might drop if they become so comfortable in your home that it doesn’t feel like a work environment. 

It may seem like a lot of hard work, and it is, but if it’s done correctly and with the proper oversight, a remote or workshop program can be successful.

For more information regarding ABA workshop services through The Johnson Center for Child Health and Development, please contact, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).