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How to know if your child's program uses ABA


A selected list of the key features, expectations, and delivery standards common to high quality ABA programs.

A student raising her hand to answer question in school

The Environment

  • Therapy space is designed systematically, distractions are minimized, materials are within easy reach of adults and are matched to the child’s level, and selected to support goals.
  • Daily schedule coordinates child and adult interactions, plan for many learning opportunities using useful activities, and is followed by the adults regularly(and modified as needed).
  • Space design and furniture support a variety of learning situations (group, individual, play), groupings, and arrangements; parents are treated as valued treatment partners.
  • Data collection, display, review and analysis systems are in place; learner progress is visibly displayed and provided to parents at regular intervals.

The Instructors

  • Show caring and supportive interactions with learners,are trained to implement the instructional objectives, and collect and analyze data.
  • Systematically trained in basic principles and techniques of ABA (not just a ‘model’), use a variety of validated curricular resources and assessments to meet the unique needs of the learner,respond to behavior ‘problems’ by teaching missing skills using positive methods.
  • Can communicate about the programs in place (identify the principles that underlie teaching methods), specify the outcomes of treatment, describe the effects of their instruction on learner responses, and create timely alternate plans in response to minimal progress.

The Instruction

  • Methods are derived from basic ABA principles, applied systematically, are modified based upon data to produce measurable changes in the child’s learning.
  • Learners have frequent opportunities to practice skills (be successful); skills are taught to fluent levels, and occur under natural circumstances (behavior taught at school is seen at home).
  • Learners are motivated to participate with positive methods using an understanding of their likes and dislikes, instruction focuses on building desirable behaviors (to correct deficits) and reducing interfering behaviors.
  • Instructional priorities are determined using assessments and match learner needs; instruction is allocated across the priorities and use learner strengths to develop deficits; taught skills are developmentally appropriate and, to when possible, follow general education curricular standards.

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