An Introduction to ABA and BCBAs

A BCBA is a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst. These professionals are experts in the field of Applied Behaviour Analysis. BCBA’s have completed an approved graduate course sequence, completed 1500 hours of supervised experience, passed the Behaviour Analysis Certification Board (BACB) exam, and are bound by the rigorous Code of Ethics set forward by the BACB. BCBA’s complete a minimum of 32 hours of continuing education every 2 years and must recertify in good standing with the board.

ABA, or Applied Behaviour Analysis, is the study of the science of behaviour. ABA focuses on systematically teaching socially significant behaviours through evidence-based practices. ABA is scientifically shown to be beneficial for increasing skills and decreasing challenging behaviours when interventions are applied correctly and analytically under the supervision of a BCBA.

BCBA’s are trained and confident in providing a multitude of different supports across a large scope; each BCBA has different areas of expertise but all have similar training to complete the following (but not limited to):

1. Conducting Assessments

After reviewing your intake package, a BCBA will conduct an initial assessment. During this time, a BCBA will meet with parents/guardians to get to know the child and determine what priorities and goals are for treatment. After goals are determined, a BCBA will do direct observation, whether that be at the office, home environment, or the environment of concern (if applicable). BCBA’s will often complete direct observations in more than one visit, and may also use this time to check additional areas to see if more treatment goals are necessary. Parents/guardians may also be asked to take data when a BCBA is not there to directly observe. Through this, there will be enough information (data) to create an intervention plan that is both individualized and comprehensive.

2. Create a Behaviour Support Plan (BSP)

BCBA’s have extensive training in developing a variety of behaviour plans which are created to support in targeted areas. BCBA’s also have extensive training and understanding in behaviour and all of the components in the environment that may affect behaviour. BCBA’s work to determine the function (or the why) of the behaviour, and once identified are able to create a BSP to teach and reinforce desired and adapted skills while systematically reducing the interfering or challenging behaviours.

3. Train and Oversee

Depending on goals, availability, and recommendations, the support of a Behaviour Interventionist (BI) may be recommended, or your supports will be provided directly by a BCBA.

If a BCBA is providing direct support, parents/guardians will be trained on the specific interventions either in office or in home. If a BI is recommended, they will also be trained on the program. Whether parents/guardians or a BI is implementing programming, ongoing support from a BCBA will be provided.

4. Analyze Data

BCBA’s are responsible for making sure that interventions are actually working and making desired changes. A BCBA will continuously track data from each program and make any necessary clinical changes if no desired changes are seen within a short timeframe (approximately two weeks).

BCBA’s focus on socially significant behaviours, our goal is to foster independence in the individuals that we support and increase the confidence of parents/guardians in home to provide effective supports. A BCBA focuses on behaviours that are observable and measurable; this can include (but not limited to) school-readiness, play skills, and supporting daily independence. If you’re wondering “can a BCBA help with this?” just ask! You might be surprised with the types of supports a BCBA can provide.