ABA & Autism in the UK
ABA is becoming increasingly common in the UK as an intervention for autistic children and adults. There are 8 'full' ABA schools - Beyond Autism's two schools, Park House/Tram House; Jigsaw; Quest; Forest Bridge; Avenue; Snowflake; & Step by Step, serving around 320 autistic children on a state-funded basis at c. £16 million per annum (ABAA4All estimates 2020, based on most recent Ofsted reports, average of known fees used). The first of several planned ABA free schools opened in 2016 in Maidenhead: Forest Bridge. In September 2017 Avenue School opened in London's Brent - offering ABA on a state-funded basis. More ABA schools are opening or due to open. Pre-schools such as Blooming Tree and First Bridge are also based in London. Most ABA schools are rated "Outstanding" or "Good" by Ofsted. Many other schools - both mainstream and special - are employing ABA professionals alongside their teaching staff, OTs and SALTs. Examples include Kings Mill in Yorkshire, Manor, Treehouse and Eagle House in London, Calthorpe Academy in Birmingham, Treetops in Essex and Ysgol y Gogarth in Wales. Ofsted/Estyn reports are mentioning ABA as a positive and effective therapy, see Forest Bridge (p. 3), Calthorpe (p.6), Gogarth (p.9). The UK-SBA's successful application for accreditation of its register by the Professional Standards Authority marks a crucial step for UK behaviour analysis. Now approved, as of Jan 2023, such accreditation improves consumer protection, raises standards and embeds ABA firmly in the UK regulatory framework.
The campaign ABA Access4All estimates that more than 3,000 autistic children are now receiving some form of state-funded ABA in the UK - whether on a home programme, in an ABA special school, in a special school which uses ABA alongside other disciplines, or with an ABA-trained shadow in mainstream. Several Local Authorities, including Southwark, Shropshire, Halton and Leicestershire employ BCBAs and other ABA professionals to help autistic children and adults in schools and other provisions. NICE also recommends that ABA professionals be consulted on challenging behaviour. (NG11- 1.1.5 et al).
Large charities such as Ambitious about Autism, Child Autism UK, PEAT and the National Autistic Society employ BCBAs and other ABA-qualified staff (click here for a BCBA definition), and Child Autism UK has 160 programmes running at any one time, most of which take place in schools/nurseries. Although the UK still lags behind the USA, where all 50 states now mandate that health insurance must cover ABA, this country is rapidly catching up and ABA is becoming part of the mainstream array of therapies in use for autism and other developmental disabilities.
ABA programmes must be managed by a masters-level professional or BCBA (numbers in the UK are growing, with 422 now registered) and the profession is overseen by the UK Society for Behaviour Analysis. In addition, five UK universities offer an MSc in ABA: Queen's University, Belfast; Ulster University; University of South Wales; University of Kent; Bangor University. The University of South Wales and Queen's University, Belfast (and other orgs) also offer RBT (Registered Behaviour Technician - tutor level) courses.
LAs and NHS Trusts that employ ABA professionals
Does your LA try to fob you off by saying they don't do ABA? Below is a list of where BCBAs or other ABA professionals (such as those with an MSc in ABA) are being employed out of the public purse. ABA is now actually becoming a part of the establishment and not "something they offer in America" as some doubters will tell you. So please give this list to your LA and let's help unpick some myths.
Note: LAs - we've not included those which simply house ABA schools, as these may be operated by independent charities (not state-run, albeit vast majority of kids there will be state-funded). NHS Trusts - usually these are in CAMHS (Child/Adolescent Mental Health Services) or in challenging behaviour services, or adult autism and/or learning disability services, often under the banner PBS.
Note: Other boroughs are employing firms such as Child Autism UK, Love ABA, Beam, All Behaviour Consultancy, Skybound, Dimensions and many other ABA firms or solo practitioners extensively on the public purse to provide ABA at home or in schools (or both) but usually on contract, not an in-house basis. They like to keep it fairly quiet though, in case (in the immortal words of one rather more honest senior LA bod we talked to) "everyone will move here if they find out we fund ABA!"
Belfast, N Ireland - three Education and Library boards (similar to LAs) - North Eastern, Western and South Eastern - have approved some limited ABA input to kids' schooling. Also NHS in the Western Trust now employing ABA staff for children/adults with LD
Berkshire - NHS Trust employing Behaviour Therapists to work with people with learning disabilities
Brent (London) - State special schools Manor and Avenue offer ABA to pupils.
Bristol - LA and NHS Trust together commission PBSS (Positive Behaviour Support Service) with BCBAs
Central Birmingham - LA employing BCBA and other ABA professionals in large state special school, Calthorpe Academy
Conwy, Wales - BCBAs and other ABA-trained staff in big local state school Ysgol Y Gogarth
Devon - LA employs a BCBA to oversee some ABA programmes
Gloucestershire - LA employing PBS practitioners for challenging behaviour. MSc in ABA required in latest job ad, Nov. 17, and BCBA 'desirable'.
Gwynedd, Wales - Employs an ABA professional to oversee ABA provision in a couple of its state special schools
Halton - LA and NHS service for challenging behaviour: BCBA is the principal manager in a team hosted by Halton Borough Council serving a range of local commissioners including the host borough, St Helens and Halton CCGs, Knowsley, St Helens and Halton local authorities. Six behavioural analysts and three assistant behaviour analysts.
Harrow - BCBA employed by LA to oversee ABA programmes. CAMHS also employs BCBA (part of CNWL, Central & NW London NHS)
Havering - NHS Trust employs ABA staff
Herts - NHS CAMHS "PALMS" service employs several BCBAs
Hillingdon - CAMHS (Learning Disability team) employs a BCBA (part of CNWL, Central & NW London NHS)
Hounslow - NHS Trust employs ABA staff
Kensington and Chelsea (London) - CAMHS employs Behaviour Analysts to work with children.
Leeds - state (free) school Lighthouse employs ABA-trained staff
Leicestershire - LA service to train school shadows run by BCBA, called Autism Outreach
Liverpool - Council has asked ABA providers to complete a survey to gauge the interest for children and young people with SEND in educational settings. A step forward! Alder Hey CAMHS also offers ABA where needed.
Medway - state school Dane Court uses ABA
Norfolk/Suffolk - learning disability and challenging behaviour services employing ABA staff
North Somerset - BCBA oversees school-based ABA programmes with opportunities for school TAs to train as RBTs in pilot project
Oxford - NHS Trust employs behavioural therapists for challenging behaviour using Positive Behaviour Support
Richmond/Kingston Upon Thames - state ABA mainstream unit Peartree overseen by BCBA who also consults for the LA on other ventures. Also NHS Trust is using ABA with adults.
Shropshire - BCBAs employed by LA for autism service
South London and Maudsley - NHS Trust employs ABA staff. National Autism Unit using Positive Behaviour Support approach
Southwark (London) - LA employs ABA professional, a BCBA, in charge of its autism outreach service
Thurrock - ABA professionals in big local state school Treetops. Also Corbets Tey uses BCBA consultants. Plus more ABA schools planned e.g. free school Chatten
Westminster (London) - CAMHS LD team employs BCBA - part of CNWL NHS, Central & NW London
Windsor and Maidenhead - 5 BCBAs, 1 BCaBA and many other ABA staff employed in big state (free) ABA school Forest Bridge
Wolverhampton - now provides ABA as part of its official outreach service
Yorkshire - Kings Mill state special school employs visiting BCBA consultants and other ABA-trained staff.