To ensure your child receives suitable and effective treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), look for therapy plans established by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). As ABA Centers of New Jersey specializes in Applied Behavior Analysis (where the ABA in our name stems from), a BCBA will certainly be personally involved in crafting and overseeing the therapy for your child. BCBAs are the foundation of proper ABA care, and we want to take the opportunity of this blog to explain why.
Approaches like ABA therapy make significant differences in the lives of children touched by neurodiversity, especially as no autism cure currently exists. Fundamentally, the goal of ABA therapy is to improve developmental outcomes. BCBAs support families through their child’s development to create better days for everyone and ensure your child’s treatment plan is meaningful and relevant to their life goals.
How does someone become a BCBA?
It takes years to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, and it requires a passion for serving others and curiosity to understand behavior and improve outcomes for complex populations. Qualifications include a bachelor’s and master’s degree in a related field (psychology, special education, child development, or even ABA). BCBAs must log over 1,000 supervision hours before passing an exam designed by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB).
Eventually, all these steps lead to official licensure as a BCBA. However, to remain licensed, BCBAs must recertify with the BACB every two years and stay current on continuing education units. ABA degree programs are often rigorous and overseen by a BCBA and other psychological experts, to ensure that the training and interventions are clearly understood and ethical. BCBAs must always comply with the ethical requirements of their industry and observe all standards required by the Board.
How Do BCBAs Contribute to ABA Therapy?
BCBAs oversee all ABA treatment plans and, in most cases, will have observed your child’s behaviors directly in addition to reviewing their case history and all necessary documentation. In addition to your child’s ABA treatment team, your BCBA will work with you as caregivers to ensure they are demonstrating progress and reaching milestones. The BCBA will coordinate with everyone on the team to ensure all participants understand the scope of your child’s experience.
BCBAs may also consult with other providers like physical therapists, counselors, educators, occupational therapists, and speech pathologists about goals. The BCBA teaches children skills essential for daily life, adaptive functions, and the best ways of expressing themselves to facilitate independence and participation. BCBAs also have expert knowledge in designing interventions that reduce and redirect challenging behaviors that create obstacles to learning.
Very often, BCBAs become your child’s most vigorous advocate, teaching them how to one day use their distinct voice to better their circumstance and carefully ensuring your child can access every chance for success.
Are There Many Active BCBAs Currently?
As of April of this year, the United States had 61,337 BCBAs. This number has increased every year since 2013. More BCBAs mean more people with autism can access essential services to improve the quality of their (and their families) life.
Where Do Most BCBAs Work?
In addition to schools, clinics, and residential settings, many BCBAs work for established ABA therapy agencies and autism service centers.
BCBAs are generally on staff or contracted to consult on student behavioral concerns in schools. In clinics and residential treatment settings, BCBAs offer support such as data collection and behavioral plan building. BCBAs often work in-home or at centers doing ABA therapy with neurodivergent clients.
However, BCBA work can be diverse, lending to other industries to promote positive change.
What’s An Average BCBA Day?
Every day is different for a BCBA. BCBAs utilize various ABA techniques to reach people with varying degrees of impairment. While your BCBA likely will not attend every ABA session, they will consistently communicate with your child’s Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) to ensure sessions are practical and meaningful.
BCBAs spend much time continuously assessing data and graphing results to refine your child’s ABA therapy. Collected data reveal patterns that, combined with live observations, impact the direction of the plans. Making careful considerations that account for environmental factors and current developmental levels, your BCBA will do the necessary hard work to determine an optimal way to reach your child to help them flourish in various settings.
With ABA therapy, clients learn to identify and minimize triggers, strive for autonomy, and communicate socially, all under the careful watch of an expert BCBA.
What Does “Applied Behavior Analysis” Mean?
Applied Behavior Analysis is an evidence-based practice used extensively in special education and with neurodivergent individuals. ABA is an aspect of psychology that utilizes the principles of behavior to promote learning systematically to modify behavior over time.
BCBAs use ABA therapy to introduce effective interventions like positive reinforcement and redirection as they work with clients. These and other powerful techniques increase desired behavioral outcomes and promote positive change.
ABA therapy focuses on philosophies such as “consequences,” which differ from punishment, but are still considered the result of actions or behaviors. For example, a child struggles to sit for any period but demonstrates that he or she can when requested. ABA practitioners reward and reinforce this behavior with praise, preferred activities, or other desired tangibles, and such are consequences. Although “consequence” is used less frequently in ABA therapy, practitioners still reward positive actions with reinforcement that creates a lasting appreciation.
ABA therapy is also effective because it addresses real-life issues specific to each client. An important principle of ABA is endorsing “socially valid” interventions. When treatment isn’t valuable or socially significant, it ultimately will not benefit a child. For an intervention to be considered “socially valid” or helpful, it must produce meaningful results, improving the client’s ability to navigate their environment.
BCBAs work diligently to address and understand behavior rather than judge or “stop it” without comprehending its purpose. Introducing socially valid intervention ensures clients advance towards their goals, improving their behavior without bias.
Along with establishing meaningful goals through observation and review, BCBAs include the input of parents when designing a child’s plan. Paying careful attention to every detail, BCBAs communicate with caregivers to confirm the child’s environment and routine are appropriate for their development while avoiding unnecessary triggers. BCBAs help improve family life and relationships by including the entire family in a child’s ABA program.
ABA Centers of New Jersey Has Everything You Need to Know About BCBAs and ABA Therapy
No two behavioral plans are the same, as every individual with autism spectrum disorder is uniquely affected. Individuals on the spectrum also face “typical” challenges, such as difficulties communicating, participating, or completing daily life skills, and ABA therapy addresses all these issues and more.
Whether your child requires a complete ABA program or you would like to schedule some parent coaching sessions, working with an experienced BCBA can be life-changing. Schedule a free consultation with ABA Centers of New Jersey to discuss your ABA therapy options. You can call us at (855) 613-0888 or visit us with any questions.