When you have a child with autism, finding the most effective treatment possible often becomes your highest priority. While many treatment approaches are available, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has been extensively evaluated over decades of clinical research and is considered to be the gold standard.
Endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General and prominent American medical associations, this treatment for autism draws on fundamental principles of learning to help children with autism develop critical skills. At the same time, ABA supports the child’s independence while addressing challenging behavior patterns.
Once you determine that ABA is for your child, you naturally look for the best ABA therapist. These three guidelines can help you identify the best candidate to meet your child’s unique needs and support your family.
1. Find a Therapist with a Strong Background & Thoughtful Treatment Plan
Not all ABA therapists have the same level of expertise. While some ABA therapists are Behavior Technicians (BTs) and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs), only Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) are required to hold a Ph.D. or master’s degree. BCBAs must also pass the certification examination. These board-certified therapists oversee BTs and RBTs.
By choosing a treatment program led by a BCBA for your child, you connect your child with an experienced, knowledgeable individual who is passionate enough to have invested years into earning their certification and degrees. They have the expertise and compassion necessary to create a tailored treatment plan that drives meaningful outcomes for your child.
That being said, education and experience alone do not guarantee the right care for your child. Because there is no one-size-fits-all ABA treatment strategy, you need a therapist willing to develop a comprehensive and personalized treatment plan. As each child with autism has unique needs and challenges, you should seek to find an ABA therapist committed to individualizing the treatment plan for optimal results.
Ultimately, an ideal ABA therapist is one that has the requisite education and experience to pinpoint areas for improvement, paired with the willingness to craft the treatment plan to address those particular areas for your child.
2. Find a Therapist Who Makes Your Child Feel Comfortable
In the search for an ABA therapist, it’s also important to find someone whose personality and demeanor mesh well with that of your child.
ABA therapy, as with any type of autism treatment, is most effective when a strong rapport is built between the therapist and client. Additionally, the best learning takes place in fun and exciting environments. While it may take some time for a strong relationship to form, it is essential that children eventually open up and become receptive to what the therapist is trying to accomplish.
The right ABA therapist will have the skills and patience necessary to build a bond of trust with your daughter or son. Capable ABA therapists working with young children should demonstrate that they can keep sessions enjoyable for the child even as they work on critical skills in challenging areas.
3. Find a Therapist That Coordinates Their Efforts Well with You
ABA therapy tends to be most successful when parents both participate and “buy-into” the treatment plan.
Parents should be on the same page as the ABA therapist so that they know what to do — and not do — to support the therapeutic approach when the child is at home or otherwise not in session. Optimizing the effectiveness of ABA requires consistency. Therefore, parents should consider aligning their approach at home with the approach at the clinic.
That requires an open line of communication and a foundation of understanding between you and your child’s therapist. The better you and the therapist can coordinate your efforts, the more you improve the likelihood of positive outcomes.
Ultimately, you should work to find a therapist with whom you can interact and communicate easily. Your child’s treatment program will be more successful — and easier to integrate into your home life — if you have confidence in the therapist and the plan they’re building for your son or daughter.
Stride Employs Qualified ABA Therapists to Help Preschool-Age Children with Autism
With locations in Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska, Stride Autism Centers is dedicated to delivering truly meaningful outcomes for children with autism ages 2 to 6 — and their families. We have full-day ABA programs that combine individual therapy with structured group activities.
Each child enrolled at Stride has a highly personalized treatment plan that is carefully developed by our BCBAs and guided by a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Our BCBAs manage all aspects of your child’s treatment, and we maintain a strict 1:1 therapist-to-child ratio.
If you’re interested in finding out more about our experienced, dedicated ABA therapists and our full-day program, please give us a call at 515-207-5251 (Iowa & Nebraska) or 312-554-5578 (Illinois). You can also get started by filling out our website contact form.
A Stride representative will then be in touch as soon as possible to discuss your family’s needs. We look forward to speaking with you and helping your child take their best stride forward.