Setting up a Programme
You are doing the right thing: look at this video from one of our campaign stars Joshua's
early ABA home programme - fun and learning combined! A big thank you to ABA consultancy
Autism Fledglings and Siobhan and Joshua Hamilton for use of the video. Here's cute Joshua
1) Get going asap as the more you do before 5, when the brain is at its most 'plastic'
the better. While you are waiting, try the ABA games on the link Tips to get you started.
2) How to pay: there are charities which can help with grants.
Some are means-tested, but not all require a diagnosis. See Charities offering ABA grants
or bursaries under Useful Info.
3) If you can fund yourself, you can go one of two ways. Either find a Board Certified
Behaviour Analyst (BCBA), which is the top ABA professional, or a Board Certified
Assistant Behaviour Analyst (BCaBA). The UK-SBA register is the best starting point for finding
ABA professionals. You will then need to find tutors, some of which your consultant
might have on board, but usually you will need to find these yourself. Depending on
the number of hours you are doing, you might have between two and four tutors.
Tutors might initially have no training and receive initial training via the
consultant. Or you might be able to find a Registered Behaviour Technician (RBT) - this
is a tutor qualification recently introduced. Ultimately, it is essential to find a tutor who
you feel is able to understand and establish a good relationship with
your child. Enthusiasm and rapport can often be just as useful as qualifications.
It is also advisable for tutors to have their own DBS (safeguarding) check and insurance.
Another option is to go to an ABA service provider like Child Autism UK who will
provide the consultant for you (not always the tutors). Full services agencies like
UKYAP or Autism Partnership will provide the whole team, but can be expensive.
An important place to look for qualified professionals in the UK is the UK-SBA register, accredited
by major UK regulator the Professional Standards Authority. This will give
you access to properly-certified and trained ABA practitioners, who have all the appropriate checks
(eg DBS). Having a BCBA as a consultant is particularly advisable if you think you might go down the
tribunal route. This way, there is no opportunity for anyone to question the validity of the
programme. You might also find a practitioner who has a MSc in ABA, from one of the
UK's five universities* offering this qualification.
4) Start applying for an EHCP now. Don't let anyone tell you to 'wait and see' or that you need the school to apply, you don't! Useful links below on applying for an EHCP.
5) Find tutors - we're not going to lie, this can be hard as there are not enough to go round. Good ones are like gold-dust, can earn anything between £10 and £25 an hour. Join the groups below and place your ad.
6) Start ABA!
7) Keep written and video records of all progress; also compare it to any lack of progress with other methods you have tried. These two sets of evidence will be crucial to building an eventual case to the Local Authority (LA) that ABA is 'appropriate' for your child. You can also try to get your Personal Budget to spend on it when your EHCP arrives.
* These five UK universities offer the MSc in ABA: Queen's University, Belfast; Ulster University; University of South Wales; University of Kent; Bangor University. Uni of South Wales and Queen's University, Belfast also offer RBT courses.
A Parent's Story
"Initially I was rather worried about the cost of setting up a programme. I decided that I would just hire an ABA consultant and become my son's sole tutor myself. This would save me money and solve the problem of finding multiple, reliable tutors. I also felt that I would be able to have first-hand experience in my son's programme and we would be able to use ABA techniques throughout the day as and when needed. I would also be able to practise targets with my child in the natural environment, for example, correctly identifying fruit that we had been working on in our home sessions while we were in the supermarket. As I was simply running a programme of 7-10 hours per week after school and at weekends, this was achievable. I would say it is, therefore, possible to make savings this way. However, you do have to be a certain type of parent for this to work. You need to be dedicated, firm and able to switch into "tutor" mode. You need to be respected and carry authority with your child - not someone who says 'stop jumping on my bed, you'll break it' and then letting them do it minutes later. I undertook several tutor training courses with renowned ABA service providers and professionals, as well as the initial training session with my consultant. Then I was ready and enthused to get started."