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Choosing the right therapy provider for your child should be done with careful research.

Ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable to make an educated decision about what is best for your child. We’ve posted these questions and guidelines to help you find the right fit for your family.

Q: Is the organization accredited by the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence?

A: The Behavioral Health Center of Excellence (BHCOE) is the only agency who reviews ABA providers. Organizations are evaluated by the BHCOE to meet rigorous standards of clinical quality, staff-centered and consumer-centered performance, accountability, and transparency. Currently, there is only a 53% pass rate for agencies that are surveyed.

Q: What are qualifications and training requirements for your front-line staff?

A: Oftentimes, children receiving ABA services will work directly with front-line therapists who are not BCBA certified. They should, however, be closely supervised by a BCBA. Ask the center about how they are trained and how often they are supervised.

Q: What experience do you have with a child like mine?

A: Just because therapists are certified doesn’t necessarily mean that they have the training to work with your child. Don’t be afraid to ask about the therapists’ experience. For example, have they worked with children who have issues similar to yours? How long have they been in practice?

Q: How often are the front-line therapists supervised?

A: Any reputable ABA provider will always make sure that front-line staff therapists are supervised on a regular basis. Ask your provider about their protocol for supervision from a BCBA.

Q: How often will my child need therapy?

A: For ABA therapy to be successful, you should plan on 20 to 40 hours a week, but the length of time and level of intensity varies with each child.

Q: Will you handle the insurance approval process?

A: A reliable provider will work with your insurance company to secure proper authorizations when necessary and navigate the billing process.

Q: Do you require out-of-pocket costs up front?

A: You should not have to pay out-of-pocket costs up front. A good provider will file claims with your insurance company on a regular basis and follow the progress of reimbursements. Only after the claim has been processed and paid should they bill
you for any out-of-pocket costs.

Q: Do you collaborate with my child’s other therapy providers?

A: An ABA program will be infinitely more successful if your therapist collaborates with your child’s school, physician and other therapy providers. Ask about how often they communicate with them and what type of reporting they provide.

ABA Resized

Q: What if my child doesn’t like the therapist?

A: The center should encourage you to come to the center to watch how your child interacts with the therapist. If your child resists certain tasks that are particularly difficult, it’s not likely that the reaction pertains to that particular therapist. If, however, over time, your child becomes upset in the presence of a particular therapist, ask for a replacement. The most effective therapists build a rapport with your child and foster relationships through positive interactions.

Q: Am I able to observe my child with the therapist?

A: Ask how frequently you will be allowed to observe your child in therapy. The center will probably have protocols to schedule an observation, but you should always have access to your child. If at any time you feel uncomfortable with what the therapist is doing, you have the right to stop the procedure, ask questions, and inquire about alternative procedures.

Q: Do you encourage parental involvement?

A: Any successful ABA program is reliant on parental involvement. After all, your child will benefit from having consistent teaching methods both at home and while in therapy. A good program encourages and fosters parental involvement and training.

Q: How do the therapists communicate with parents and how often?

A: A good center will have ongoing communication with parents. Some children display different behavior at home than they do in therapy, so it becomes vital for both parties to communicate about the child and discuss problem behaviors so that a solution can be addressed.

Q: Do you collaborate with my child’s other therapy providers?

A: An ABA program will be infinitely more successful if your therapist collaborates with your child’s school, physician and other therapy providers. Ask about how often they communicate with them and what type of reporting they provide.

Q: How are transition plans handled? How will you prepare my child to leave the program? 

A: Be sure to ask how your provider handles transitions as your child is ready to advance to another level of therapy or move into a mainstream school. It’s important they collaborate with your child’s other caregivers to ensure a smooth transition. Reputable centers will have your child’s best interest in mind and will prepare him or her to leave the program and “graduate” into a mainstream school. They should also have procedures in place to follow up with your child for the rest of his or her life.

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