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11 Things to Consider When Choosing an ABA Provider

an aba therapist at westside helps a child with a drawing exercise
  1. How your family and child are treated

It is important to find a therapist that both you and your child feel comfortable with and can trust. At Westside, we pride ourselves on being an ABA provider that treats clients and their families like our own family. We fully embrace a child- & family-centered approach to therapy, and we are here to support you and your child’s growth in every way. 

  1. Parent involvement in therapy

Parents know their children best. That is why they need to be involved and utilized throughout the entire ABA therapy process-  from evaluation, to treatment planning, to parent training. Westside ensures that our therapy teams pay attention to parents’ goals and incorporate them into treatment and behavior plans on an ongoing basis. We emphasize regular parent training sessions to show parents how to carry-over interventions in the home and community and ensure consistency. 

  1. What do sessions look like?

ABA therapy has different styles. Sessions can be play-based in the natural environment, structured and more repetitive at the table, or a combination of both. Westside chooses to emphasize play-based learning in the natural environment, especially for younger ages (0-6 years), because research shows it is typically best for development and promotes generalization of skills. 

  1. Training of the team

You will want to ensure that therapists on your child’s ABA team are trained appropriately. At Westside, Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) lead the treatment teams, and qualified behavior technicians work under the BCBAs. All of our ABA therapists become certified Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) and undergo an in-depth onboarding program upon hire, so they are well-trained before taking on clients. In addition, BCBAs are always in the clinic overseeing the treatment and coaching RBTs frequently. Our low turnover rate means that RBTs remain long enough at Westside to build on their training and become highly-skilled behavior therapists. 

  1. Frequency of BCBA involvement in sessions

BCBAs undergo extensive education and training in order to best implement ABA therapy. A BCBA needs to develop, maintain, and modify all ABA treatment and behavior plans. Therefore, their oversight is imperative for successful follow-through. Westside Children’s Therapy focuses on in-center ABA therapy, where BCBAs are always on-site and available to check in on and help therapists. We maximize the utilization of supervision hours that have been allotted by insurance companies in order to improve training, oversight, and treatment integrity.

  1. Clinic vs. home-based

The primary settings for ABA therapy are either in-home or in-clinic. While both have their advantages, recent research has shown that center-based services produce significantly better outcomes. For this reason, here at Westside, we choose to deliver center-based ABA. Center-based service delivery is extremely effective because the environment is structured and controlled. There is constant access to BCBAs and other qualified staff, resulting in more oversight, increased training, and improved interventions. Furthermore, there is access to peers to practice social skills and new reinforcers to elicit motivation. 

  1. Hours requirements

Recommendations for the number of ABA therapy hours per week should be individualized and should come after an evaluation has been completed. There is no one-size-fits-all recommendation, and maximizing therapy hours is not always the best fit when considering the family and child’s needs. Westside will give you a recommendation based on medical necessity, and then work with you to balance your needs and maximize progress. Check out our recent blog post on determining therapy hours to learn more.

  1. Proximity to service provider

ABA therapy is a large time commitment, so it is favorable to be nearby your provider. You will probably be doing drop-offs and pick-ups multiple, if not all, days per week. It also gives you comfort as a parent to not be too far away from your child. Westside Children’s Therapy is an ABA provider that has 13+ clinic locations across the Chicago suburbs, meaning most of our families only drive 5-10 minutes to get to the center.

  1. Other therapy services offered at same place

Westside Children’s therapy offers all pediatric therapy services at the same location – including:

  • Diagnostic testing
  • ABA therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Feeding therapy
  • Counseling, serial casting
  • VitalStim
  • Teletherapy

If your child is getting multiple therapies, coordination of care is of utmost importance. Our therapists share information and education, as well as therapy activities, with each other to ensure more effective, well-rounded, and successful treatment.

  1. RBT turnover rate

Particularly high turnover rates plague the ABA industry. Research suggests that ABA providers’ turnover rates range from 30-75% on average. This puts a heavy strain on providers, disrupts continuity of service, and negatively impacts quality of care. For this reason, Westside has devoted a lot of energy to make our company a favorable workplace that employees want to stay at long-term. With a turnover rate of less than 10%, your child does not have to continue switching therapists throughout the year. 

  1. Billing, business, and insurance practices

In the field of ABA, unethical billing practices are not uncommon. This is not something that is easy to see. It is important to choose a provider who is reputable and transparent in their billing practices. Westside is an ABA provider that abides by and exceeds all ethical therapy and billing practices.