• Kandace Little-Hahn

How to Find an Empathetic, Effective, and Ethical ABA Provider: Part One

Welcome to Part One of the Series: How to Find an Empathetic, Effective, and Ethical ABA Provider. Join me as I walk through the BACB Ethics Code and highlight important characteristics of quality ABA Providers. I am a Behavior Analyst with 7 years of experience in the field, 4 of those years certified as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). I currently provide behavior analytic consulting for families, businesses, and remote supervision for individuals accruing their hours for the BCBA exam, among other activities. I started my own practice in order to pursue projects that I am passionate about and have the ability to practice in the way that I find most ethical, effective, and empathetic to the people I serve.

First and foremost, let us start with characteristics of an effective provider. An effective provider is one that is present. While this may seem like the most basic of criteria, I mention it because you should be seeing your Behavior Analyst often. If your child is receiving tiered behavior analytic services, which means that a Registered Behavior Technician provides the bulk of direct service with you and your child, it is likely that the funding source requires a minimum of 5% of direct services be supervised by the BCBA. However, this is the bare minimum requirement. The BACB, Behavior Analyst Certification Board, recommends that 20% of services be supervised by a BCBA in its practice guidelines. So if your child is in sessions for 10 hours a week, around 40 hours a month, you should see your BCBA between 2 and 8 hours that month. This level of supervision might fluctuate depending on a number of factors, though it is never appropriate for the level of supervision to drop below the minimum requirements while sessions are being conducted according to schedule.

You and your child have the right to effective behavior analytic services. The characteristics of effective services are inherently tied to supervision requirements because your BCBA should be monitoring your child’s progress during these supervised hours. Progress monitoring is done through data collection, which should occur anytime services are provided. This ongoing progress monitoring tells you and your provider what teaching strategies are working; if an approach is not working, it should be changed in a timely manner. If your child has been working on the same programming month after month with little change in methods or materials, reach out to your provider. Your child deserves engaging, productive, and effective learning opportunities. You deserve to work with a provider that is receptive to feedback and questions.

Secondly, though not less important, is the ethics of your provider. Your BCBA should make their commitment to their Code of Ethics known throughout your therapeutic relationship, as well as your rights as a consumer. The Code was written in part to protect you as a consumer of behavior analytic services. Four core principles of the code, described in the latest update for practitioners effective January 1, 2022, are the following:

  • Benefit others

  • Treat others with compassion, dignity, and respect

  • Behave with integrity

  • Ensure their own competence

Ask yourself: are we benefiting from the behavior analytic services we are receiving? Am I and my child being treated with compassion, dignity, and respect? Is my ABA provider behaving with integrity? Am I confident in the competence of my ABA provider? If your provider is an ethical provider, you should be able to respond to all of these questions with a resounding, YES! If you cannot, an empathetic provider will hear your concerns, thank you for your valuable insight, and make any necessary changes to ensure that they are providing quality care that aligns with your needs and values.

A high quality Behavior Analyst will strive to be ethical and provide effective services. My hope is that the Behavior Analysts you interact with also strive to be kind and understanding of your perspective. If you have not been so fortunate with your BCBAs, Autism Vision volunteers, board members, and community partnerships are here to help you find the best resources and supports. You can always reach me personally at kandace@imagoconsult.org.

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