It can feel totally overwhelming to have to start from scratch for an ABA provider — but it doesn’t have to. Here are six steps to finding the ABA provider that will work best for you, and most importantly, work best with your child.
Momentum Towards a Decision
You might be surprised to realize that this first step has already started. You’ve probably already received the results of a diagnostic evaluation. Your pediatrician has referred and prescribed ABA Therapy for your child. (If not, click here). The reality is that you still have some obstacles to overcome to get your child the help that they need. You may still be processing the fact that your precious child has received a diagnosis. The realization that the unknown now has a label may be hard to process.
The label doesn’t really bring any certainty or healing, just more questions. You or a spouse may be in denial about a myriad of things related to your child’s condition. You may feel guilty, lost, overwhelmed or too weak to make this huge decision and commitment… I encourage you to work your way through to the end of these steps. Clarity will come and you will find your way forward!
Your pediatrician should be able to provide you with a list of ABA services providers in the community. You can contact your insurance to provide you with a list of In-Network Providers. You can also use search engines or the state behavior analyst board website to find providers in your area.
The local autism community made up of parents and grandparents could be a wonderful resource and support during this time of uncertainty. Families Helping Families is another great local resource to help you get informed about your options
- Social Media – Facebook Community Groups, Provider Pages can provide some insight
- Current and former employees – No one knows about the quality of therapy or the character of the organization like the employees. Check Glassdoor and other sites.
- Current and former clients – Reach out through community groups and interview families that are currently receiving ABA services (click here for a sample client interview form).
- Independent Parallel Services providers such as OT, PT and Speech can give you great feedback (Parallel Provider Interview form)
- Ask your insurance funder if they have quality assurance scores on the providers in your area. Use BACB’s Practice guidelines to ensure that prospective providers are adhering to a best practices model. Also, use the BACB’s Code of Conduct to create interview questions for potential providers
- Meet with ALL the providers that you are considering for services. (Click here for our free provider questionnaire).
Weighing the evidence
Here are five questions you need to ask yourself before choosing a provider.
- Who did you connect with the most during the consultation phase?
- Who does the community say is the highest quality provider? (other clients, parallel professionals, employees, educators)
- Who’s ABA practice is most in line with the BACB practice guidelines and Code of conduct?
- Who can get your child started with therapy in a timely manner?
- Who has a clinic within reasonable driving distance from my house? (3-5xs a week)
Choose among the alternatives
Sign up for an ABA evaluation with the one that you feel that would provide the highest quality therapy for your child while also connecting with and supporting your family during this season of life. Provide all the necessary paperwork ASAP as spots are probably limited.
Take action, stick with therapy, give it three months. ABA therapy often doesn’t move at light speed. It will take time for the therapist to pair with and understand your child. It may take time for your child to get in the groove of therapy. Every child is unique and progresses at their own pace. Progress isn’t predictable either. It comes in spurts! Let the BCBA’s progress reports speak for the progress that is or isn’t being made.
Review your Decision
Trust your gut while continually evaluating your decision. If you have any concerns, address them with the BCBA during your next parent meeting. If, in a reasonable amount of time, your concerns aren’t addressed don’t hesitate to bring those concerns to your referral sources and seriously entertain getting therapy service elsewhere. Remember your window to make the optimal impact on your child’s behavior is limited! Go back to step 2 and rework the process. I would say good luck, but you don’t need that anymore! It’s time.