How do you know if the ABA Therapist working with your child is terrible, good, or great at their job?
There are many specific characteristics to look for. I have worked with many families who often fall into two categories when dealing with in-home therapists:
- The family has a great and dedicated therapist, but isn't aware of it because they are expecting perfection. They go through therapist after therapist and find flaws in all of them.
- The family has a mediocre, or even bad therapist, but they don't replace the therapist because: they don't know how bad the therapist is or they are afraid they wont find anyone else.
After reading this list you might realize you have a GREAT therapist working for you. Appreciate and provide feedback to that therapist that they are doing a wonderful job. Its okay to reinforce each other just like we reinforce our kiddos!
Traits/Characteristics of a Great ABA Therapist:
- He/she is passionate about their work, enjoys talking about ABA strategies and principles with you, and sharing techniques with you.
- He/she seems to genuinely like, not just tolerate, being around children. You see or hear the therapist laughing and having fun with your child before or after sessions. They don't just finish the session, clean up, and head home.
- He/she talks about career goals within ABA or a related field. It isn't just a "job" to them; it is a career path they are interested in.
- He/she becomes emotionally invested in your child's progress. If you have been struggling for months with toilet training, and you call the therapist excited one night that your child just peed in the potty the therapist will be excited with you.
- He/she asks for feedback and supervision. If no supervisor is available they seek out books, movies, or research articles about ABA, Autism, behavior, etc, so they can increase their knowledge.
- He/she is a team player, and open to communication with the child's teacher or related therapists.
- He/she responds appropriately to suggestions for improvement and constructive criticism. They do not respond by being defensive, making excuses, or becoming upset. They want to learn how to perform their job well.
- He/she has an open mind regarding different approaches, strategies, interventions, or methods of behavior management. If you tell the therapist you are considering a supplemental therapy, they will hear you out and ask questions about it, even if they cant ethically support or endorse it.
- He/she is a consistent individual. They show up on time, work the full session (doesn't consistently leave early), call when they say they will call, attend required staff meetings, etc. It is apparent that they take their job seriously, and are a professional.
- This last one is very important: He/she is making progress, and improving. Sometimes families see areas of weakness in an ABA Therapist, and expect the person to fix those areas overnight. As long as the therapist is trying to improve and working on their weak areas, that shows you the therapist is a dedicated individual who takes their job seriously.
A great ABA Therapist is a gem to any family, and has the potential to bring about huge changes in your child's learning. Start looking for signs of greatness when seeking ABA therapists to hire, and if you realize you already have a great therapist working with your child make sure you show them your appreciation.