How do I find an ABA therapist?

Facebook have great pages, such as ABA Ireland and Home Tutors for those with autism spectrum disorder, where both tutors and parents often advertise. Apart from these options, rollercoaster.ie, indeed.ie and autism services Ireland have advertisements placed. You can also join some parent groups on Facebook and post here that you are looking for a tutor and other parents can pass it along to their current tutor, if they have availability. Local autism services might have a record of tutors in the area, such as Shine in Cork.

When looking for an ABA tutor, I would have a list of questions that you would like to know, and make an appointment to meet with them. Take a look at their C.V, but don’t always expect to see references from a professional ABA tutor. Client confidentiality is a big thing and in ABA we take our ethical guidelines and considerations seriously.

It is important to know that many services recommend ABA therapy for children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder and so, many tutors and/or therapists advertise themselves as ‘ABA trained’ or ‘experience in ABA’. However, it is very important to know what kind of ABA therapist is the most suitable and qualified to deliver effective ABA services to your child.

My advice when it comes time to search for the ideal ABA tutor or therapist, is to look for the following:

1)      Currently studying ABA at a Masters level or as a Registered Behaviour Technician (RBT) by a recognised University. Studying a course that is recognised as a verified course sequence by the BACB (Behaviour Analysis Certification Board) and also seeking or receiving BCBA (Board Certified Behaviour Analyst) supervision on their work with your family.

2)      Finished their Masters in ABA, possibly pursuing their examination to become a BCBA, and seeking BCBA supervision on their work with your family.

3)      Completed their 40 hour training and preparing to sit the RBT examination, and seeking/receiving supervision from a BCBA.

4)      A BCBA (Board Certified Behaviour Analyst). You can find a list of all current registered BCBA’s in Ireland on the BACB.com website.

The above are essentially the ideal candidates that I would recommend, however, quality trained, educated and supervised ABA therapists are hard to come by, and in many cases, parents will hire a person with ABA experience, with no formal education in applied behaviour analysis, no training under the BACB task list and/or supervision by a BCBA in their ABA service delivery. If this is the case for you, then I would strongly recommend that you also secure the supervision of a BCBA to oversee your ABA tutors work and to possibly train the therapist in question for your childs therapy. Many paraprofessionals have implemented excellent and amazing ABA therapy under the correct supervision of a BCBA, but sadly, I  have seen the consequences of tutors hired on the premise that they are ‘ABA trained’ absent BCBA supervision, and I feel that I need to first inform parents as to what constitutes a sufficient ABA therapist, and to strongly urge parents to seek this as oppose to the alternative. The above persons listed are bound by a very strict set of ethical guidelines set down by the BACB. Others are not bound by any code of ethical guidelines.  

Apart from the obvious danger to children and families, for me, unsupervised tutors can create a very bad image for the field of applied behaviour analysis, and unfortunately there is nothing that can really be done! I take great pride in my work. The amount of work that goes into an ABA programme is probably the most extensive that you will see from any kind of child therapy, and I feel very strongly about creating a positive image and practise for ABA here in Ireland, by promoting a suitable and ethical standard for ABA therapy.