What Does A Great ABA Therapist Look Like?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. The family has a mediocre, or even bad therapist, but they don't replace the therapist because either they don't know how bad the therapist is, or they are afraid they wont find anyone else.

It is important as a parent to know what signs to look for to judge the quality of the ABA provider. 
Therapists, this is important information to know so you can strive to match these characteristics. 

An effective and quality ABA program needs many things: a qualified and experienced supervisor overseeing and running the program, materials/teaching stimuli and supplies, consistency, and a GREAT team of therapists. The therapists are the glue of any ABA program, as they are the ones doing the day-to-day teaching.

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! Everyone likes to receive heartfelt appreciation. :-)

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 invested in your child's progress. If you have been struggling for months with toilet training, and you call the therapist excited one morning that your child just peed in the potty the therapist will be excited with you.
  • He/she asks for feedback and supervision from senior members of the team. 
  • 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 is a consistent individual. They show up on time, work the full session (doesn't consistently leave early), attend required staff meetings, etc. It is apparent that they take their job seriously.
  • 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. But change doesn't work that way. For most people, it is a process and doesn't occur in a single moment. 

A great ABA Therapist is a gem to any family, and has the potential to bring about huge changes in your child's learning. 

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