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What happens during an ABA‑based assessment?

January 7, 2020

Shot of a little boy playing with his toys at home

Congratulations on finally finding an ABA provider! Whether your child has just been diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum and this is your first experience with ABA, or your child has been receiving ABA services for a while and you are looking for a new provider, you’ve made it through the insurance and referral process and you are ready for one of our talented Board Certified Behavior Analysts to complete an initial assessment with your child.

One of the benefits of an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) evaluation from Butterfly Effects is that it is conducted in your home, where you child is most comfortable and can be evaluated under the conditions you and your family are normally in, day in and day out. Sometimes children may behave differently if an unknown person is present but generally, they feel comfortable because they are on their own turf. This allows for a more natural and realistic evaluation to take place.

Before we even arrive in your home, your service coordinator point of contact and your BCBA will reach out regarding the details of your assessment date and time along with documents and online questionnaires to be completed ahead of the evaluation. These documents and questionnaires will provide an overview of your child prior to the BCBA arriving which will help them in prepping the right assessment for your child.

When the BCBA arrives on the day of your assessment, they will sit down with you and any other caregivers to review the documents you had completed previously and clarify any questions either party may have. We will also conduct an interview process to see how best we can serve your family and priorities you may have for your child.

After the interview and documentation is checked off, we will begin to pair with your child. Pairing consists of engaging in play and following your child’s lead in order to build rapport and allow your child to warm up to the BCBA. Once pairing has occurred, the BCBA will evaluate how your child responds or does not respond to particular instructions, demands, and environment changes. We will also evaluate the why, where, and when of any potential problem behavior your child engages in that you wish to address. To do that, we may have to contrive situations or ask you to recreate a situation that leads to problem behaviors. The parent is welcome and encouraged to be present for the duration of the assessment. This portion of the assessment typically takes approximately 2 hours.

After the hands on portion of the assessment is completed, the BCBA will sit down with to provide an overview of our findings. We will also provide a clinical recommendation on hours of services needed to reach your goals most effectively. ABA services are more intense than other services your child may receive, such as speech therapy or occupational therapy. Our minimum recommended hours based on research of effectiveness will typically be 12 hours a week with a maximum typically seen at 30-35 hours a week. The hours recommended will take many factors into account such as the child’s age, developmental level, severity of problem behavior, and other scheduled services or school currently enrolled in.

I know… it’s intense. You may be wondering if that many hours are really necessary or if it would just burn them out. Trust us. We know this seems like a lot, but our recommendations are based on years of scientific research and our services are tailored to your child and their natural environment. Although we will be working on a lot of things, we also make time for fun and play! We are in the business of reinforcement after all! We make sure we divide up our lessons so your child is addressing language, following directions, learning play skills, and learning life skills. It takes a village, and we want to be a part of yours!