Donna Highley head shot
Interview with Donna Highley, Behavior Technician

What drove you to the ABA profession?

While working in the public-school setting and utilizing ABA therapy techniques with children with special needs, I realized how positive reinforcement and education combined, can bring confidence and a true desire to learn.

How do you balance your career and family?

I am fortunate to have an understanding and supportive family. While encouraging me to maintain my commitments to my job, they also help out with the daily commitments of the household. Teamwork!

How has Golden Care helped you in your career development?

Working for Golden Care has given me the opportunity to use my skills with my students and their families. In a school environment, I wasn’t able to truly experience the rewards of watching a family embrace the joy of their child’s success.

What advice do you have for prospective Golden Care candidates?

Prospective Golden Care candidates should always be open to new ideas. Good listening skills is a must while keeping your mind open to learn all you can! Lastly, do your best to keep all your commitments.

What do you find the most challenging in your work as an ABA?

The most challenging aspect of my job is turning off the switch at the end of the evening. Sometimes giving your mind a rest is the best thing but the hardest to do.

What have you gained from working at Golden Care?

I have gained creativity as I research different and unique ways to achieve goals.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

The best advice I was ever given was not to judge someone’s reaction to things or their attitude, for we do not know the battle they are fighting.

What’s the one thing you’d tell your younger self?

Never stop learning.

What is the favorite part in your work as an ABA/ of working for Golden Care?

My favorite part of my work is all of my work. I have such a rewarding job being on the Golden Care Team. I look forward to every aspect of each session.

What is your proudest moment at Golden Care/ in your work as an ABA?

My proudest moment was hearing my nonverbal student speak!

What is one thing that you wished people knew about your job?

I truly wish people knew how the nature of the job makes me who I am. Working with such an amazing child and their family has brought more to me in every aspect of my life than I could ever give to them.

GCT: Thanks so much for your time Donna, and for sharing your insights on what makes you such a great ABA therapist. And thanks for being a valuable member of our team, delivering ABA therapy to children! We really appreciate all you do for our clients!

If you’re interested in our services, you can find out more information about our in-home ABA therapy in New Jersey here. Or for job openings, you can view our ABA therapy jobs in NJ here.

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Children's birthday cake
5 Tips for Throwing an Awesome Autism Friendly Birthday Party

A child’s birthday party can be stressful for any parent. Keeping tabs on dozens of over excited kids is not everyone’s idea of a relaxing Saturday. But as parents we do it as they bring so much joy to our children, as well as creating those family memories that last a lifetime. When it comes to autism and birthday parties, while the challenges can be more difficult, the rewards can be even greater. 

So to help you with your party planning, here are five autism friendly birthday party ideas.

Firstly, why can parties be difficult for children with ASD? 

Children’s parties have a lot of sensory stimulation as well as unfamiliar social norms, which children with autism can find overwhelming. Loud music, shouting and singing happy birthday all have the potential to cause sensory overload.

Then there are both the explicit and implicit rules that kids need to follow when playing party games, which again can be a struggle. 

And while parties are a great way for kids to learn how to socialize outside of the structures of school, this adds further stress to those that struggle with communication.

But careful planning can help you throw an autism friendly birthday party which avoids many of these problems. 

1. Keep it small and brief            

Possibly the most important piece of advice is to start small. If this is the first birthday party you’re throwing for your child, then maybe just invite a couple of friends. Parents often feel like they need to invite the whole class, or to reciprocate any invitations their child has previously received. But you need to do what works best for your child, and other parents will understand this.   

Or you may feel more comfortable only inviting a few family members that your child has a close bond with, such as grandparents and cousins. Then, as your child gets a bit older, you can start inviting a few school friends.

As well as keeping the guest list small, it’s also a good idea to keep the running time brief. Plan this around your child’s attention span and energy levels. If you think just half an hour of activities and half an hour for food is sufficient, then that’s fine. 

2. Pick a suitable location    

Next you need to consider where the most suitable birthday party location is. Do you think your child would feel most comfortable in the familiar environment of the home, or would they get more enjoyment from their big day at another location?

If you decide to go somewhere such as a restaurant or indoor play center, it can help if your child is already familiar with the place. Doing a “practice run” the week before can also be a wise move, as it prepares them for what to expect. Even little things like knowing where the bathrooms are or where the table will be can help with the preparation. And some party venues now host sensory friendly days, such as Chuck E Cheese.

3. Carefully plan the activities 

The birthday activities you choose will of course be based on your child’s interests and ability (after all, you know you child your best!). But generally speaking, activities that have lots of rules, turn taking, or loud noises can pose the biggest challenges. So things like musical chairs or pass the parcel may be best avoided. 

Therefore, focus on what your child enjoys playing with. For example, if your child loves playing with Lego, the main activity could be unstructured play time with Lego. Or if your child likes to try their hand in the kitchen, you could do a make your own pizza topping activity. 

4. Decide the best approach for gift giving  

The ceremony that comes with accepting and opening gifts can be tough for some kids. Again, you’ll know best how your child responds to gift opening, but it’s common for many children with ASD to become overwhelmed by being the center of attention. Therefore, some families prefer to save the gifts and open them later with just the immediate family present. While other families ask that guests don’t bring gifts.

5. Consider treat alternatives

We all know the problems that come with too many sugary foods and drinks. Therefore try and substitute traditional party snacks for healthy alternatives. Fruit and carrot sticks always make a great alternative, as does diluted natural fruit juice. And a birthday cake isn’t mandatory either. If for example you feel your child would prefer ice cream, then do that instead. 

And remember, don’t feel pressure to have a “traditional” party

As with Christmas and the holidays, parents can often feel pressure to throw a “traditional” birthday party for their little ones. But as any parent of a child with ASD knows, autism and birthday parties need to be carefully planned and considered. After all, it’s about doing something your child will enjoy, rather than doing what others might expect.

If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy provider in New York and New Jersey, give us a call at (732) 402-0297. Our dedicated team is ready to help and we will treat you like family.

Featured image photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

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Back of a school bus
How to Choose the Right Autism School in NJ for Your Child

How to choose the right school for your child with autism in NJ is one of the biggest questions parents face. The hopes and dreams we have for our children are heavily dependent on giving them the best possible education. But when it comes to a child with autism, what we mean by the “best” education varies greatly from child to child. 

Therefore, forget about searching for “the best autism schools in NJ”, and instead focus on assessing possible schools based on your child’s specific needs. To help you with this process, we’ve put together this quick guide to choosing autism schools in New Jersey.

First off, know your rights

Choosing the right school for your child with autism can be a tough decision. This is especially the case if it’s the first time anyone in your close family has been in this position. Therefore it’s important to be aware of the support that’s available and the rights that you and your child have. 

Children with autism in NJ (and all other states) have the right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). What this means in practice is that you have the right to request an evaluation from your local school district’s special education service, who will then work with you and your child to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP). This is a legal document which must:

  • Provide a detailed explanation of your child’s special education program
  • Summarize your child’s current performance and specific instructional needs
  • Provide measurable goals and objectives
  • Allow your child to make reasonable progress based on their individual circumstances

Consider your choice of schools 

Public schools autism programs

As the above information shows, public schools are required to adapt their lessons in order to support children with autism. However, there are still plenty of pros and cons you need to carefully consider. These environments can be great for inclusion, for children that are functioning well socially and are comfortable being placed in a large institution.

However, for some children, the stimulation and social structures of a mainstream school can be overwhelming. Furthermore, some public schools unfortunately lack the resources to provide all the support that some children may need.    

Charter schools for autism

If you feel that a mainstream education provided by a public school isn’t the best option for your child, then you may consider a charter school for autism. Charter schools receive government funding so are free to attend, but are independently run and usually based around a specific mission.

Therefore, these schools are able to provide a far greater range of support and services for children with ASD, such as ABA therapy and sensory rooms. However, children don’t get the benefit of interacting and building relationships with the broad range of peers that they would at a public school.  

Private schools for autism

Private schools for children with autism and other disabilities are similar to charter schools. However, the big difference is that these schools charge tuition fees. Also, these schools are not bound by the students’ rights discussed in the above section, so do not need to provide IEPs.

The support and services provided by these schools varies, as do their educational philosophies. Therefore, you should thoroughly research each of these schools, to evaluate if they’re a good fit for your child.

What to look for in a school  

Now you know your rights and your choices, you can begin evaluating individual schools for autism in NJ. Here are some of the important factors you need to consider:

  • The distance from your home. Decide the maximum daily travel time that you consider appropriate for your child and calculate what the radius would be. This should be the first filter you apply as you start your search.
  • Read online comments and reviews. Research what other parents have to say about the schools in your area on autism and parenting blogs and forums.
  • Visit each school during a regular school day. Arrange a visit to each school on your shortlist during a regular school day. Get a feel for the environment and culture and speak to the teacher your child might have, as well as the principle.
  • Question the staff on their approach to children with ASD. Ask how they handle specific behavior situations such as bullying, as well as examples of support they’re provided to other students.
  • Take your child with you during each visit. Observe how your child behaves and interactions in each school, to see which environment they respond to the best.
  • Inspect the facilities. Check what facilities each school has for children with special needs, such as a sensory room.

And remember, trust your gut

Ultimately, the school you choose has to feel right for you and your child, so just as when choosing an ABA therapist you have to trust your gut. Therefore, do your research, visit each school, read reviews and speak to other parents, but make your decision based on what feels right. If you follow this process you’ll choose the right autism school in NJ for your child. 

For more autism resources for families in New Jersey, visit our blog directory. Or if you would like to find out more about the ABA services we provide to children with autism, you can get in touch here.

Featured images photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash.

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Michael Jaghab ABA headshot
Interview with Michael Jaghab, Behavior Technician

We sat down with this month’s Gold Star winner Michael Jaghab to discover what drives him as a Behavior Technician, what he likes about working for Golden Care Therapy, and what’s the best advice he’s ever been given.

What drove you to the ABA profession? 

After I graduated high school, I needed a job. I began working for a family friend that had twin boys with autism. I thought it would only be for the summer. That summer turned into 15 years. Although they live in a residential, I still work with them from time to time. It was working with them that I learned about ABA therapy. I loved it so much that I began working in an ABA school after I graduated from Kean University in 2009. Currently, I work as a teacher at an ABA school in Monroe and I could not be happier. 

How has Golden Care helped you in your career development? 

Golden Care has helped me develop my communication skills with parents and co-workers. Working for Golden Care has also helped me think in ways to understand what is important, meaningful, and functional for each individual child. 

What advice do you have for prospective Golden Care candidates? 

At times sessions can get difficult, and I think it is important to remain calm throughout. Also, always be ready to be flexible. 

4) What do you find the most challenging in your work as an ABA? 

I think knowing how and when to adapt your sessions to meet the needs of the client is the most challenging. What worked before may not work this time, and learning how to adapt on the fly can be difficult at times. However, for me, that is the fun part. 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? 

Always follow through. Follow through with the directions you give. Also, follow through with what you say to the parents because it helps build trust. 

What is the favorite part of your work as an ABA/working for Golden Care? 

I love working with the families and getting to know them. I also love working with different BCBA’s. I have had the opportunity to work with some great ones! 

What is your proudest moment at Golden Care/ in your work as an ABA? 

Working in ABA is not an easy job, and not everyone can do it. Coming to work every day, working with families, and helping their child achieve their goals are my proudest moments. Knowing that the families appreciate what you do makes me want to try harder for them. and that a skill you’ve worked on is working in the outside world is some of the best news you can get. 

What is one thing that you wished people knew about your job? 

That it’s one of the best in the world! Every day is different, it’s never boring, and it is one of the more rewarding jobs you can have. 

If you’re interested in our services, you can find out more information about our in-home ABA therapy in New Jersey here. Or for job openings, you can view our ABA therapy jobs in NJ here.

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Two toddlers sitting with mom on sofa
ABA Therapy Techniques You Can Use at Home

ABA therapy is often considered the “golden standard” of autism therapy. The scientific approach of ABA therapy is designed to improve specific behaviors and skills in autistic children.     

Oftentimes an ABA therapist will suggest some techniques to practice with your autistic child at home to reinforce the therapy sessions. 

To give you a better understanding of what these techniques entail, we’ve put together a list of some common ABA therapy techniques that you can use at home

But just a quick note before we start. If you’re already working with an ABA therapist then they’ve no doubt already discussed ABA therapy techniques to use at home. In which case, discuss any changes you want to make or new ideas you have with your therapist first.

First off, what is ABA therapy?

Essentially, ABA therapy focuses on improving specific behaviors and skills in people with autism. This includes social skills, communication and domestic activities.

At a very high level, this is how the process works:

  • An ABA therapist identifies a needed skill
  • As the child engages in the desired skill or appropriate behavior they gain access to reinforcing items
  • Over time, this reinforcement encourages the child to continue engaging in the targeted skills 

ABA therapy in the home  

As you can see the purpose of ABA therapy is to improve skills and behavior. Therefore, ABA therapy techniques that you are practicing at home should focus on this objective.

Here are some common exercises that many parents find useful and effective to help their autistic child grow.

Sit in the chair

You can incorporate this into daily activities where your child is required to sit in a chair, such as meal times. Sit down and then ask your child to take a seat opposite you, facing your direction. Make it as fun as possible. Provide plenty of praise when this is achieved.

Look at me 

This is a good exercise to encourage your child to make and maintain eye contact with you. To do this, use a visual stimuli such as blowing bubbles from your mouth. This can also be incorporated with teaching your child to sit in their chair.

Match the colors 

For this exercise, try and use objects around the home that your child is familiar with and recognizes. Examples include toy cars, crayons or socks. Select one item and ask your child to match all the other items that are the same color. Start with colors that are the same shade. As your child develops their skills, incorporate different shades of each color into the activity.

Identify the emotions

This is a great activity for children that struggle with emotion regulation. Print out a range of emojis (such as a smiley, sad, angry, etc.) then place each one face down. Your child then picks up one at a time and has to identify the correct emotion. You can also use this activity to open up broader discussions around their own and other people’s emotions.

Sort household items

This activity requires illustrated boards and cards of rooms in the home and the typical items found in each room. You can find these in most toy stores or online. Your child needs to match each item with each room, which is a great way to build some early level life skills.

Identify the function

Again, this activity requires some materials, which you can either download and print out or buy. Here’s a good example of the type of cards you need for this. Your child then needs to use the context provided on each card, in order to choose the correct object for the function. This helps to develop both their functional skills and their vocabulary.         

Remember, positive reinforcement is vital 

Modern ABA therapy techniques are all about incorporating fun and stimulating activities into your child’s daily routines (old school ABA techniques like negative reinforcement are no longer used).

For the newly acquired skills and behaviors to stick, you need to use plenty of positive reinforcement. In practice, this can mean lots of different things, such as praise whenever an activity is performed correctly, or giving your child access to reinforcing items, such as favorite toys.

Ultimately, when using ABA therapy techniques at home, experiment with different activities, at different times of the day, with different family members. This will enable you to discover which activities are the most effective and when are the best times to do them. 

If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy provider in New York and New Jersey, give us a call at (732) 402-0297. Our dedicated team is ready to help and we will treat you like family.

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krista gerleit head shot
Interview with Krista Gerleit, BCBA

GCT: Hi Krista! Can you tell me more of what drove you to the BCBA profession?  

Krista: I started out as a teacher for students with Autism and got to work closely with BCBAs who consulted in my classroom. I appreciated their systematic and effective approach to teaching, and quickly decided that I wanted to become a BCBA to strengthen my teaching practice and better serve my students.

GCT: What does the day to day of your job look like?

Krista: Something that I love about this job is that no two days are ever the same!  I spend time working directly with children and families, providing support and training to therapists, collaborating with other BCBAs, conducting assessments, writing treatment plans, creating teaching materials, and researching new treatment protocols just to name a few. Every day is an adventure!

GCT: What do you find the most challenging in your work as a BCBA?

Krista: For me, the most challenging part of the job is also what I find most rewarding. Since each client and family is unique with specific goals, learning styles, and needs, each treatment plan needs to be highly individualized. It can be very challenging to figure out the best approach for each client and family, but once I do, it’s a great feeling!

GCT: What drew you to Golden Care originally? And how has Golden Care changed since?

Krista: I was originally drawn to Golden Care by the supportive and collaborative work environment.  From the beginning I have been given ongoing support and guidance, which makes me better as a BCBA, which in turn results in more effective treatment for clients.

GCT: What is the favorite part in your work as a BCBA/ of working for Golden Care?

Krista:  My favorite part of my work as a BCBA is helping kids learn. I especially enjoy teaching communication and social skills.

GCT: How do you balance your career and family?

Krista: It is definitely a challenge to achieve a balance.  As much as possible I try to stay in the moment and give my full attention to whatever I’m doing at the time. I am fortunate that I have a fairly flexible schedule as a BCBA, and am able to plan my work and family commitments around each other.

GCT: Thanks so much for your time, Krista, and thanks for being such a valuable member of our team! We so appreciate all you do for our clients!

If you’re interested in our services, you can find out more information about our in-home ABA therapy in New Jersey here. Or for job openings, you can view our ABA therapy jobs in NJ here.

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Tim Rohrer Business Card
What’s True Inclusion? By Guest Contributor Tim Rohrer

This article first was first published in The Source on July 5th 2019. 

People with disabilities have been given a lot more opportunities than ever before. They have the same opportunities in learning new talents, jobs, and education. But there is one opportunity that is missing for them. That opportunity is true inclusion and friendship.

People with disabilities had been stereotyped as anti-social. This is false! Not all people with disabilities are like that. A lot of them want to have healthy able friends in their lives who can look up to them and help them whenever they are struggling. Whether someone has a disability or not, being friends with neurotypical people is a right, not a privilege. People with disabilities complain about being left out from social activities such as texting, calling, going to the movie theater, going out to eat, hanging out at the beach and at parties. When people with disabilities complain about being left out from these social activities, it means that they may feel upset about their lives.

We have the option to participate in activities such as going to restaurants, movie theaters, and going to the beach alone. But doing these activities without friends is not fun. Telling excuses to leave someone with a disability out from fun activities is bad for their health.

Not giving people with disabilities the opportunity to hang out and keep in touch with the general population is not only boring for them, but it can also damage their communication skills, behavior, education, and employment. If it would hurt your feelings for people to restrict you from hanging out or keeping in touch with you, why would you do it to people who are different from you?

Many people mistake people with disabilities to be annoying. The behavior of people with disabilities does not mean they are trying to alienate us. It means that they want someone to make them feel better. Friendship and compassion are the most pleasant ways to make them feel better.

Including people with disabilities is more than just being an acquaintance with them and avoiding saying hurtful things to them. True inclusion of people with disabilities means allowing them to talk to you. It also takes compassion, common sense, and an open mind to talk to them. If you witness something different in someone, it means that they have a disability. The disability does not make them a bad person. Don’t always see people with disabilities with your eyes, see them with your heart!

The second ingredient to true inclusion is allowing them to keep in touch with you, whether it is through calling, texting, instant messaging, Face Timing, Snapchatting, or even through a video game server. If they talk in a different way than neurotypical people like the rest of us while keeping in touch with you, take the time and talk to them in their style. Be courteous not to ignore or block them when they want to talk to you.

The third ingredient is allowing them to do fun things with you or even your group of friends. You may meet someone with a disability at school, church, volunteer program, or at work. Talking to them just for when you see them there may be satisfying to them, but it will only satisfy them for a short amount of time. Talking to them in that concept only will make them sad or angry during their free time such as the weekend or summer break.

People with disabilities like going to restaurants, beaches, movie theaters, birthday parties, the bowling alley, and the mall as much as the rest of us. How would you feel if you were forbidden from going to these places? People with disabilities either go to these places alone under supervision by a guardian or they don’t go to these places at all. Imagine going to these places alone under supervision by an authorized guardian without any friends. Do you think people with disabilities would rather be with friends or with authorized guardians better? If we can start hanging out with people with disabilities by giving them the time to chat and have fun together, it would save time and money for parents, guardians, caregivers, and counselors.

Treat people with disabilities the same way you wish to be treated. Let’s educate our youth of how to socialize with the disabled. Similar to Best Buddies, we need to have more extracurricular activities and events that allow people with disabilities to hang out with the rest of us.

Whoever you are, enjoy your passion in sports, cheerleading, band, choir, theater, honors classes, art, computer graphics, video games, comedy, agriculture, or anything you dream of. But just remember this, if someone is lower than you, allow them to talk to you about your passions. For example, your passion in the choir can soothe them or your passion in honors classes can help them memorize things better.

Money can’t buy happiness, but true inclusion can! Remember to let your friendship with the disabled person follow up with them not only when you see them in the hallways, but during the weekends, holidays, and summer breaks too!

You can find out more information about Tim’s great work on his website Tips4Inclusion and on his Facebook page.

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Megan Domzalski BCBA
Interview with Megan Domzalski, BCBA

We sat down with this month’s Gold Star winner Megan Domzalski to discover what drives her as a BCBA, what she likes about working for Golden Care Therapy. and how she manages her work-life balance

What drove you to the BCBA profession? 

I’ve always been interested in working with individuals with different needs. As an education major, I was placed in a variety of different settings and schools. One of my most memorable experiences was the opportunity to teach for the Delaware Autism Program. This experience sparked my interest in the science of behavior which soon turned into a passion. I spent 7 years teaching in self-contained ABA classrooms and made the decision to go back for my BCBA to make myself a better educator and advocate for my students and their families.

How do you balance your career and family? 

If this career has taught me anything about balance, it’s how important it is. I’ve never been one to “leave work at work”. This last year, becoming a new mom has taught me how even more difficult balance can be, but that it is absolutely crucial. My husband and I have been able to work out a schedule so I am able to see my clients on a regular basis and ensure that I am able to be what they need, all the while being what our family needs as well! (And lots of coffee!)

How has Golden Care helped you in your career development? 

A few years ago when I began working for Golden Care Therapy, it was my first leap into building my career as a BCBA. Golden Care has allowed me to grow and learn as a BCBA by supporting my professional style and goals. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a variety of different clientele, administrative staff, and behavioral technicians, who have each brought something different to the table for me.

What do you find the most challenging in your work as a BCBA? 

I think one of the most challenging pieces of this career is that it’s not always understood or respected as an actual science. Because there are no “quick fixes” for behavior or “short cuts” for learning, it can be difficult to explain to other professionals or families the science behind ABA therapy and that consistency and time are essential for change.

What have you gained from working at Golden Care? 

I feel working for Golden Care has absolutely helped to improve my confidence as a BCBA. Conferring with my colleagues has strengthened my communication skills with families and other professionals. Golden Care also provides feedback, positive and constructive, which has improved my report and program writing as well.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? 

When you meet one individual with autism, you meet one individual with autism.

What’s the one thing you’d tell your younger self?   

There is ALWAYS more to learn and ALWAYS room to grow personally and professionally.

What’s the favorite part of your work as a BCBA/ of working for Golden Care? 

One of my favorite parts of my job working for Golden Care is being able to work with families and watch caregivers and clients grow.

What is one thing that you wished people knew about your job? 

To someone unfamiliar with this field, it may seem as if BCBAs have little emotional connection to clients or their families because we are often looked at as “tough as nails!”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. This is the nature of the job, however, determination and consistency are two of the most powerful pieces of behavioral science (aside from reinforcement, of course). I wish others knew how emotionally invested BCBAs are in their career. The amount of time dedicated to ensuring that programs and interventions are catered to the various and ever-changing needs of my families is truly immeasurable.

If you’re interested in our services, you can find out more information about our in-home ABA therapy in New Jersey here. Or for job openings, you can view our ABA therapy jobs in NJ here.

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Two toddlers playing with adult
What to Look For in an ABA Therapist

If you’re a parent searching for ABA therapy for your child, then you probably have a ton of questions about what to look for in an ABA therapist. That’s completely understandable, as the right therapist can have a hugely positive and lasting impact on your son or daughter. 

However, you may not be fully confident about what makes a good ABA therapist, especially if this is your first experience with ABA therapy. So to help you along your journey we’ve put together this quick guide on what to look for in an ABA therapist.

First off, what is ABA therapy?

You have no doubt already read plenty of material on what is ABA therapy, so we’ve kept this section brief. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a common type of therapy for people with autism. It focuses on improving specific behaviors and skills in people with autism, such as social skills, communication and domestic activities.

At a very high level, this is how the process works:

  • An ABA therapist identifies a needed skill
  • As the child engages in the desired skill or appropriate behavior they gain access to reinforcing items
  • Over time, this reinforcement encourages the child to continue engaging in the targeted skills   

How is ABA therapy delivered?

ABA therapy services must be provided by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). A BCBA is not a physician, however the training and qualifications requirements are rigorous and include:

  • A masters or PhD in psychology, behavior analysis or education.
  • Passing a national certification exam
  • Seeking a state license (in certain states)

The BCBA writes each treatment plan and then works with Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT) or behavior technicians, who deliver the therapy. 

Therefore, you will be teaming with two people during your child’s ABA therapy. The BCBA, who writes and monitors the treatment plan as well as supervises the person delivering the therapy, and the RBT/behavior technician, who delivers the therapy to the child.

Here’s what to look for in both of these professionals.

What’s the therapist’s previous experience?

As discussed above, all BCBAs have gone through rigorous qualifications and training. Therefore the important variable to check is what their previous experience is in the field. Ask how long they’ve been working as a BCBA and roughly how many families they’ve worked with over that time.

Ask the same questions of the RBT/behavior technician who will be delivering the therapy. Qualifications will also differ among these professionals, as unlike a BCBA, a college degree or masters is not a mandatory requirement. Therefore, inquire about their academic background as well. 

What’s their personality like?

Personality is extremely important when it comes to what makes a good ABA therapist. This is particularly the case at the RBT/Behavior Technician level, as they are the ones delivering the therapy to your child. They need to be fun and engaging and be able to form a close rapport. 

Patience is also an extremely important virtue in a good ABA therapist. You need to have confidence that even during the most challenging behavioral situations, the therapist will keep a cool head and not lose their temper. 

How personalized is the treatment plan?

The level of personalization in the treatment plan that the BCBA develops is also very important. Avoid a therapy provider that takes a cookie cutter approach to treatment plans. The plan should be personalized to your child’s needs. Therefore, it should only be written once a functional assessment has been completed.

It’s also important that the treatment plan takes into account the root causes of any behavioral issues that it plans to address. For example, a behavior issue may be identified as regular tantrums during bath time. However the BCBA should seek to identify what may be triggering this, rather than just focusing on the behavior.        

How many RBTs/Behavior Technicians does the BCBA supervise and what are the supervision processes?  

There are strict rules in place governing the supervision requirements of RBTs/behavior technicians by BCBAs. However, you should still ask a few questions here, such as how many RBTs/Behavior Technicians does the BCBA supervise and what the monthly supervision process looks like. Also ask what training procedures the BCBA has in place, for both the RBTs/Behavior Technicians, as well as for parents and teachers.  

How do they collect and use data?  

ABA therapy is grounded in scientific principles. Therefore, in order to constantly monitor progress and optimize the treatment plan, the collection and use of data is vital. Ask the provider what metrics they use to measure progress, and how they’re presented and updated. If they are using subjective measures, such as simply commenting on how your child’s general behavior is, this is unreliable.

Ultimately, data should be used to carefully track and monitor all behavior goals. This allows evidenced based decisions on all future changes and modifications to the treatment plan, ensuring it’s fully personalized to your child’s specific needs.  

How are they managing your expectations?

You will no doubt have a lot of questions for the BCBA about the results you can expect to see and how long this will take. It goes without saying that every child is unique, therefore it’s impossible for a BCBA to give any specific time frames or promises at the very start. If a therapist makes big promises and commits to specific timeframes, then they are setting unrealistic expectations. 

And lastly, it’s fine to ask for a trial period first 

As a parent, your number one priority is ensuring that your child is receiving the best possible ABA therapy. In which case it’s fine to ask for a trial period first, before you commit to a therapy provider. 

During this period, examine how well the therapist is interacting with your child and if they’re forming a positive and relaxed relationship. And remember, modern ABA therapy is not aversive and does not use punishments for bad behavior, so monitor how the therapist manages difficult behavior situations with your child. 

Ultimately, you have to be completely comfortable with your chosen provider. If it doesn’t feel right, then find another ABA provider that you feel more comfortable with.   

For more autism resources for families in New Jersey, visit our blog directory. Or if you would like to find out more about the ABA services we provide to children with autism, you can get in touch here.

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Kendall Bacskoczky head shot
Interview with Kendall Bacskoczky, Behavior Technician

GCT: Hi Kendall, can you please tell us a bit about your job as a Behavior Technician (BT)?

KB: I provide ABA therapy in homes and in different community settings in order to teach children different social, play, and functional life skills.

GCT: What drove you to the BT profession? 

KB: I have always enjoyed working with children. I was lucky enough to stumble upon a position early in college and have continued since then. 

GCT: How has Golden Care helped you in your career development?

KB: Golden Care was the first position I received where I was providing services in homes. With Golden Care I’ve been better able to determine the settings I enjoy working in the most. 

GCT: What advice do you have for prospective Golden Care candidates?

KB: My advice to prospective candidates looking to work for Golden Care is to ensure you can make a commitment to the client when taking on a new case. Home services are shorter and later hours and sometimes it can be difficult to schedule sessions when things come up. When accepting cases make sure the commitment is something you can handle! 

GCT: What drew you to Golden Care originally and what has changed since?

KB:  I had first moved to New Jersey in 2017 and was looking to try ABA In another setting besides a school. Then, Golden Care’s billing system was paper! I have worked with many new staff in the time I’ve been a part of Golden Care. 

GCT: What have you gained from working at Golden Care?

KB:  So much fieldwork experience! Working with Golden Care while finishing my masters has given me the opportunity to apply my learned skills in real life situations. 

GCT: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

KB:  Be the person you needed when you were younger! 

GCT: What’s the one thing you’d tell your younger self?

KB: Keep working hard because it will all be worth it! 

What is your favorite thing about working for Golden Care?

KB: Working directly with kids and running programs! 

GCT: What is your proudest moment at Golden Care/ in your work as a BT?

KB: I am definitely most proud of the simple successes that clients make during sessions, such as pottying, playing or eating routines! 

GCT: What is one thing that you wished people knew about your job?

KB: It can be difficult to determine the best way a child can learn. You really need to get creative sometimes! 

GCT: What does the day to day of your job look like?

KB: Currently I work for Golden Care in the morning and evenings with two clients! My afternoons are spent providing ABA at a clinical space for children with autism! 

GCT: What do you find the most challenging in your work as a BT?

KB: Perusing my BCBA while working full time hours as a BT. Finding time to balance personal and free time with work and supervision can be very challenging.

GCT: Thanks so much for your time, Kendall, and thanks for being such a valuable member of our team! We really appreciate all you do for our clients!

If you’re interested in our services, you can find out more information about our in-home ABA therapy in New Jersey here. Or for job openings, you can view our ABA therapy jobs in NJ here.

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