The number 1 thing you should definitely see in every session of therapy is an engaged therapist.
Being in the field of ABA should not be viewed as simply a job to pay the bills. A therapist that enters this field in hopes of simply treading water through their sessions is a therapist that has an expiration date. It sounds harsh to put it in such certain terms, nevertheless, it is typically the case.
Application of the principals of Applied Behavioral Analysis through intensive 1:1 therapy takes laser-like focus, not just on the session at hand, but also the broader goals we’re working towards. ABA Therapy is a marathon, not a sprint. Having the end in sight is rarely possible. Achieving goals leads to the next goal and the next and so on. We build progress incrementally with ABA. Our end goal can be eliminating an unwanted behavior, independence with a certain task, or the ability to communicate a need consistently. We continually build on these accomplishments with new goals.
Engagement is not as simple as being focused completely on the task at hand. A therapist with such a strong clinical focus can see progress, but without emphasis on the child as well, progress will be limited. In addition to clinical focus, a strong therapist will demonstrate daily a passion for a relationship with their student.
Personally, I’ve visited classrooms where I couldn’t tell from an outside perspective that ‘work’ was being done. I’ve seen therapists run themselves into a wheezing mess playing tag. I’ve witnessed BCBA’s lose themselves into a game of ‘memory’. Pairing is an important concept in ABA, and a therapist that attempts to build a relationship from a clinical process they’ve studied is doomed to have a sub-par relationship with their student, and as a result, sub-par results.
ABA Therapy often focuses on functional and useful skills that should be taught in functional and useful ways. A session of therapy often just looks like someone being helped through their daily life and taking breaks to play games and enjoy their day.
At Keystone Achievements we look for engaged therapists clearly enjoying the time they get to spend with this amazing population. Playing games, sincerely praising, and overall reveling in the successes our team accomplishes are some minimum expectations. If Keystone isn’t your home for ABA, we would recommend you look for that level of engagement before you enroll your child into any autism center or ABA therapy program.