When your child first begins receiving Applied Behavior Analysis services (ABA), you may be inundated with abbreviations. ABA, RBT, BCBA––These are just a few of the abbreviations that will come up while your child is receiving services. There are different roles throughout your center or in-home session, and a whole team behind the scenes working with your child. The purpose of this article is to focus on the role of the BCBA as it relates to treatment for your kiddo.
There will be two main individuals that you will interact with regularly. Your Registered Behavior Technician(s) (RBT) and your Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). The RBT is the individual you will see daily or whenever you child has an ABA session. The RBT will be the one initiating the programs that are provided for them by the BCBA. So, what is the need for the BCBA, then? They are not typically the ones working day to day with your child, so what does their role include? Let’s go ahead and start from the beginning.
Is there something you want to see or work on? Discuss this with your BCBA! By keeping an open dialogue with your BCBA, they can provide goals to reach these outcomes.
You first meet a BCBA when you bring your child in for their initial assessment. They will be guiding you through the necessary medical background and performing the initial assessment for your child. This assessment will help the BCBA determine various skill levels and provide some basic information about your child and the behaviors that they currently are engaging in.
Once your initial assessment is complete, the BCBA begins to put together an initial treatment plan. This is where all of the information gathered prior to the assessment (i.e. diagnostic evaluation/referral) and during the assessment comes together. The BCBA oversees the authoring of a treatment plan that will address your child’s needs. This includes:
Defining the behaviors that you would like to see reduced.
Creating replacement behavior goals to take the place of said targeted behaviors.
Creating goals that will help aid in things like communication, or provide other socially significant outcomes in order to help your child thrive in the least restrictive environment.
Creating parent training goals (yup! You’re included too Parents/Caregivers)
Creating a behavior intervention plan (otherwise known as a 'BIP'…yup that’s another abbreviation you may see/hear). This is to help outline what to do when a behavior targeted for reduction happens as well as provide tools and ideas to help your child engage in their replacement skills.
It is the role of the BCBA to help communicate what is happening in the initial treatment plan prior to having you sign the plan, which is to be submitted shortly after. They are also meant to help communicate the reasons why specific treatment goals have been set. And of course, they're here to help with any questions you may have regarding the treatment itself for your child. Is there something you want to see or work on? Discuss this with your BCBA! By keeping an open dialogue with your BCBA, they can provide goals to reach these outcomes, and will able to explain why that goal should wait, or how they are taking steps towards achieving the bigger picture.
The BCBA is also a communicator or coordinator when it comes to other services. If your child receives other services such as speech, occupational and/or physical therapy, your BCBA will do what they can to coordinate care and work together with other therapies for the best outcome for your child.
The BCBA oversees authoring a treatment plan that will address your child’s needs.
The Programmer & Trainer
Your BCBA not only creates the plan but puts it in place by creating programming for you and the RBT to follow in and out of sessions. But don’t worry, you will not be left to your own devices! Your BCBA will provide training as needed and at least once a month to ensure your understanding of the current programming and teach you the best ways to implement these goals in your everyday life. The BCBA also provides supervision (with InBloom it is on an almost weekly basis) to the RBT in order to update programs in real-time and provide any ongoing training that may be needed.
As you can see, by overseeing plans and treatments––From assessment to implementation and beyond, the BCBA is an integral part of the ABA process. Your BCBA will be an incredible ally for you when creating meaningful and socially significant outcomes for your loved one. These roles can extend further than outlined here, but hopefully some insight has been provided on the caliber of the role your BCBA will play in your loved one’s services.
About the Author
Allison S – M.A., BCBA
Allison has been in the field of ABA for the last eight years, and always knew that she wanted to be working in human services, attributing her career goals to her older brother with Down syndrome. Allison began as a tech in 2013 before getting her BCaBA certification in 2016, and has spent the last five years working with adults in residential services where she completed her Masters from Arizona State University, receiving her BCBA certification shortly after. She came to InBloom in March and has enjoyed the fun of being able to work closely with early learners again. In her free time, Allison can be found at her gym, or at home watching her favorite movies on repeat with her husband and rescue pup.
"What to Expect During the Diagnosing Process" Dr. Traci Jordan – PsyD, L.S.S.D
"Getting Involved in Your Kiddo's ABA Sessions" Candace B – M.S., BCBA