7 Questions to Ask an ABA Provider

Updated: Nov 24, 2023

If you have made the decision to start applied behaviour analysis (ABA) services and are wondering now what – you are not alone! Whether you are paying for services out-of-pocket, with funding through the Ontario Autism Program (OAP), or insurance, you want to make sure you are getting the most out of your time and money. This is why finding a provider who is a good fit for your family and their goals is so important. We’ve compiled a list of questions and considerations that you can use when speaking with different agencies and providers that we hope will help get you started in finding the right team for you.

1. What are the credentials of the person/team?

Make sure that the professional(s) on the team have the education and experience necessary to support you and your family. A credential that you will want to see from someone overseeing your child’s clinical program is a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA). This is an individual who has received education and training specifically in applied behaviour analysis and is certified through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. This individual is bound by a code of ethics to protect consumers. You may also see credentials, such as Registered Behaviour Technician (RBT), or Board Certified Assistant Behaviour Analyst (BCaBA). Both these credentials require a BCBA to supervise their work, so if you have an RBT or BCaBA on your team make sure there is also a BCBA involved.

You will also want to ask about the experience of the professional(s) on the team. For example, someone who has only worked with children to develop vocal language may not be the most appropriate for a young adult who displays significant aggression and vice versa. Depending on where you are receiving ABA services, you may not have the ability to select the members on the team. You can inquire, however, about the training and supervision they will receive to ensure they can effectively target your child’s goals.

2. What are your philosophies on….?

A good question to ask is about the provider’s philosophies on certain behaviour and teaching styles to ensure it matches your beliefs. Take for example self-stimulatory behaviour, often referred to as “stimming.” This can include things like toe-walking, hand-flapping, repeating words or phrases, and gazing out of the corner of the eye. This is an area that many clinicians differ in their approach. Ask about the professional’s philosophy on these behaviours to ensure they align with your own. Being in alignment wherever possible eliminates the risk of having to change providers later.

3. What are the fees and billing practices?

You want to know the cost of the services you are going to receive. This includes any fees related to session cancellations, late pick-ups, meetings, travel (time and distance), report-writing, consultations with other professionals, etc. These practices should be transparent and both parties should be aware of their contractual obligations before service begins.

4. Are there grandiose promises?

Beware of any blanket statements like, “We can make your child talk” or “I will stop that behaviour.” The most effective teams are ones who set individualized goals that are broken down into smalls steps the child will achieve along the way. This will take time and likely some problem-solving. A good team will involve their families in conversations related to successes as well as barriers and strategies that will be attempted to break down these barriers as they arise.

5. How are caregivers incorporated?

Learning a skill with a therapist is wonderful, but it is truly meaningful when that skill can be demonstrated with a caregiver or out in the “real world”. Ask about how the team plans to transfer new skills to you and your home (if not already doing so directly). Will you be expected to attend a certain number of sessions per month? Will a therapist come to the home? Will you need to write down any examples of a skill or record how many times a behaviour occurs? This will give you an idea of the commitment that is expected of you.

6. How do you collaborate with other professionals?

An individual will learn and maintain new skills when there is consistency across environments (e.g., home, school). If there are other professionals involved in the individual’s care, such as teachers, a speech language pathologist, occupational therapist, or psychiatrist, it is important that the goals and strategies used by all professionals align and support one another. Ask how the ABA team will collaborate with others. This is also a good question to pose to the other professionals!

7. How did this conversation make me feel?

The ultimate question is, “Do I get a good feeling about this provider?” If you are uncomfortable with anything that you see or hear while speaking with them, this is a sign that they may not be the right fit for your family. You want to feel heard, understood, and optimistic when speaking with a prospective provider. Remember, you are going to be working closely with this team, so you want to feel comfortable asking questions and as though you are a true part of the decision-making team.

You are your child’s best advocate and only you know what will work best for your family. To learn more about finding the right provider, contact us at kmaisels@kerrymaisels.com.