Posts Tagged ‘BCaBA’

Parents and professionals working together

Parents and professionals working together

Hi and Welcome to What Works Wednesday! where the focus is usually the description of a successful case story. The general public is slowly beginning to learn and appreciate the fact ABA works. However, in an ongoing comprehensive ABA program for individuals, more than just good ABA is required. Parent and professional collaboration is an essential ingredient. In ABA teams at Applied Behavioral Strategies, the BCBAs work to ensure that every case has 4 hours of parent-professional contact at a minimum each month. Collaboration occurs in a variety of contexts.

Team Meetings

In a comprehensive program, it is important for the team to meet frequently to guarantee that the team is implementing programs correctly and that programs are modified so that the child will continue to make progress. In most cases, the team meets twice per month for 2 hours. The first order of business at every meeting: parent concerns. The team includes all therapists, the supervisor (BCBA), the parents, and other outside professionals.

Clinic/Team Meeting Notes

During the team meetings, detailed notes are taken so that team members may review them before therapy. Everyone receives a copy of the notes, including the parents. The notes are also placed in the child’s program book so they are handy for team members.

Communication Logs

In cases where the child receives therapy in a setting where the parent is not present, therapists and supervisors keep a detailed communication log that is sent home with the child each day. These logs keep the parents informed about the child’s day and serves as another way to build cohesive team communication.

Phone Consultation

Supervisors at Applied Behavioral Strategies make themselves available by phone. Supervisors are extremely busy but a great time to return calls is between appointments when driving from place to place (don’t forget to use your headset!). Parents, if you need to speak to your supervisor, let him/her know so that time can be made for the call.


Finally, email is another way to remain in close contact with parents. Emails can be returned at any time of day; especially when talking by phone is not possible. Emails also provide a written record of your requests and decision making.

In summary, professionals be diligent to ensure parent-professional collaboration. Parents, do not be timid. Partner with your BCBA and team to help propel your child’s progress to its maximum potential.

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New Year ResolutionAs behavior analysts, we are faced with many responsibilities. Before we even think about seeing clients, we must first acknowledge the need to uphold our ethical obligations. We have a number of rules and principles to keep in mind. These include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Core ethical principles for psychologists
  • BACB Guidelines for Responsible Conduct
  • State Laws
  • Federal Laws

As we embark on the new year, I have a few resolutions for me and my fellow behavior analysts to consider.

  1. I will strive to keep reinforcement a top priority by conducting preference assessments and reinforcer inventories frequently (relates to BACB Guideline 4.05)
  2. I will strive to keep my client’s rights ahead of my own interests and conveniences (relates to BACB Guideline 2.0)
  3. I will strive to engage in professional behaviors at all times so that others view our profession with high regard (relates to BACB Guideline 7.01)
  4. I will strive to remain current in the research related to my area of practice (relates to BACB Guideline 1.03)
  5. I will strive to be the best behavior analyst that I can be (relates to Guideline 1.0)

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The field of behavior analysis is growing. This is due in part to:

  1. International Board Certification in Behavior Analysis (www.bacb.com)
  2. Increased insurance legislation mandating coverage of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) (http://www.autismspeaks.org/advocacy/states)
  3. Increased behavioral needs of all children


Because of these, and other reasons (e.g., CT has a law requiring BCBA {or similar} supervision of some school programs), BCBAs are hot commodities. Check out Craig’s List in your area and count how many companies are hiring behavior therapists and/or behavior analysts. Agencies will pay top dollar for a highly qualified and experienced BCBA. In fact, a recent email went out to certain BCBAs advertising up to $125,000 annually for a BCBA on the east coast.


Recently the Behavior Analysis Certification Board, produced two important documents. You can read more about them here and here. Essentially, the Board described expectations for supervisors regarding case loads and professional duties. Supervising the provision of ABA services requires on-going and regular contact with the client and therapists on the team. To do this well, BCBAs should maintain a small case load. If the BCBA has a BCaBA to assist with some duties then additional clients may be served. The bottom line is that clients need regular contact and supervision of the program.

In some instances, an agency may hire a BCBA and expect the BCBA to provide all the services for the clients or students within the agencies. For example, numerous school districts hire one BCBA to cover the entire caseload of special education students. The end result is poorly supervised ABA programs and a BCBA who is unable to fulfill his/her job duties effectively.

Important Personal Duties

In addition to all the professional duties required, BCBAs must also tend to multiple personal duties. These include:

  • maintaining certification
  • completing continuing education credits
  • registering for and attending conferences
  • reading and keeping up with the professional literature

During the course of the continuing education webinars provided by Applied Behavioral Strategies, LLC (an approved BACB provider), BCBAs seem to be so busy that they:

  • don’t have time to check their email
  • forget to include important documentation such as BACB certification number
  • forget to come to the webinar

Yes, BCBAs are so busy that they forget to come to a webinar that they have paid for and one that they need in order to maintain their certification.

So, slow down, organize yourself, make priorities, and do not overextend yourself. You owe it to your clients and you owe it to yourself.

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Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Mondays where I respond to a question from readers. Today’s post is a follow-up to a previous post on Supervision where Karen had asked “what are the rules on ABA supervision?

Recently, the Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB) issued a document related to practice guidelines. While the practice guidelines are specifically related to the provision of ABA services for individuals with autism, readers are provided with clarity regarding the supervision expectations for clients.

The BACB has this to say about on-going supervision of ABA services:

“Although the amount of supervision for each case must be responsive to individual client needs, 1-2 hours for every 10 hours of direct treatment is the general standard of care. When direct treatment is 10 hours per week or less, a minimum of 2 hours per week of clinical management and case supervision is generally required. Clinical management and case supervision may need to be temporarily increased to meet the needs of individual clients at specific time periods in treatment (e.g., intake, assessment, significant change in response to treatment).

A number of factors increase or decrease clinical management and case supervision needs on a shorter- or longer-term basis. These include:
• treatment dosage/intensity
• client behavior problems (especially if dangerous or destructive)
• the sophistication or complexity of treatment protocols
• the ecology of the family or community environment
• lack of progress or increased rate of progress
• changes in treatment protocols
• transitions with implications for continuity of care

Within the same document, the BACB discusses case loads for BCBAs. Specifically, they suggest:

  • The average caseload for one (1) Behavior Analyst supervising comprehensive treatment without support by a BCaBA is 6 – 12.
  • The average caseload for one (1) Behavior Analyst supervising comprehensive treatment with support by one (1) BCaBA is 12 – 16. Additional BCaBAs permit modest increases in caseloads.
  • The average caseload for one (1) Behavior Analyst supervising focused treatment without support of a BCaBA is 10 – 15.
  • The average caseload for one (1) Behavior Analyst supervising focused treatment with support of one (1) BCaBA is 16 – 24.
  • As stated earlier, even if there is a BCaBA assigned to a case, the Behavior Analyst is ultimately responsible for all aspects of case management and clinical direction. In addition, it is expected that the Behavior Analyst will provide direct supervision 2-4 times per month.

Keep in mind that these recommendations are related to comprehensive programs for children with autism.

We hope this helps to clarify our previous suggestions about supervision of ABA programs. We applaud the BACB for providing these guidelines that will prove helpful to behavior analysts, parents, and school district staff alike.




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Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Mondays where I respond to a question from readers. Today’s question comes from Gwen who writes:

“My high functioning 7-year-old is in mainstream 1st grade with an aide. Her biggest problem is laughing and saying, “No!” as an attempt to avoid working. She is not disruptive enough to be sent to the resource room, yet she is non-compliant which is not appropriate for general education. Our ABA team has tried token systems and they did not work.They tried PEC cards for “quiet time” and “stop talking” but those strategies did not work.

At home, I simply say in a firm voice,  “It’s time to work” and she does it. She may giggle and say repeatedly, “all done!” but the work is completed and it is usually correct!

Do you have any tips for us? She is simply running over them”

Hi Gwen! thanks for coming back to visit. We are sorry to hear that you are having troubles with your daughter’s behavior. Let’s talk about a few things.

Function of Behavior not Form

First, so many times teachers and other professionals fall in to the trap of treating a behavior based on its form (how it looks–or what behavior analysts call topography of the behavior). However, we should not attend to the form of the behavior as much as we should attend to its function (the result of the behavior).

Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)

We cannot effectively address a behavior without first knowing it’s function (why is your daughter doing this?). We typically understand the function by taking careful ABC data. We could also do some manipulations if necessary to prove why she is doing the behavior.

Your Daughter

Based on what you’ve told me, it seems that she is getting an awful lot of attention for her behavior (e.g., “no talking” and “quiet time” contingent on the behavior). If that is the case, a simple intervention of attending to her for good behavior (i.e., attending and working) and ignoring the junk behavior (i.e., work refusal and laughing) should be effective. Both techniques should be used in combination to ensure effectiveness of the intervention.


Seat work time. Your daughter laughs and says, “no”.

The teacher and aide should immediately turn their backs to her and instead give all of their attention to the other kids in class who are working quietly. The adults should say “I like how Johnny is working quietly” and “Suzie, you are doing great quiet work”

When your daughter is quiet and working, the teacher or the aide should immediately turn to her and give her praise for working quietly.

Class-Wide Reinforcement

The teacher may want to consider a class-wide reinforcement system so that all the children can be rewarded for staying on task and completing work

Keep me posted on how things go!!

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Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Mondays where I respond to a question from readers. Today’s question comes from a parent who is a regular reader (and poster) on our blog. Thanks Karen for your loyalty. Karen asks:

“What are general rules regarding supervision of the individual that provides ABA services?

How much oversight is required?

Is Supervision provided through data collection or intermittent on site visits?

How many students can the BCBA supervise ?

How is supervision validated?”

Thanks for stopping by our blog again! We love having repeat visitors.

BCBA  Supervision Rules

We have different rules for supervision depending on who we are supervising.

Supervising a BCBA in Training

If we are supervising someone who is training to become a BCBA the board requires us to supervise them a minimum of 2 hours every other week. This process is very long and can take up to 2 years. In addition to the on-going supervision we provide to those in training, we have to complete a form each time we supervise the person. Additional information on this type of supervision may be found here.

Supervising a BCaBA in Training

We have strict rules for providing supervision to a student who is trying to become a BCaBA. This process is also lengthy and requires written feedback. Rules for this type of supervision may be found here.

Supervising a certified BCaBA (on-going)

If we are supervising a practicing BCaBA, we have different rules.The board requires only one hour per month of this type of supervision. However, annually, “at least two of these monthly supervision sessions shall be conducted in-person, to include direct observation of actual service provision with individuals”. Additional information may be found here.

Supervision of Non-Certified Implementers

Finally, our organization lacks specific requirements for supervising staff who implement our programs. We have an ethical duty to make sure that programs are being implemented appropriately. Depending on how much ABA a client is receiving, supervision needs would vary. For example, if a child is receiving 40 hours per week of ABA therapy, more supervision would be needed (2-4 hours per week) but if someone is only receiving 10 hours of therapy per week, they may receive only 1-2 hours per week of supervision. For a detailed list of our guidelines for responsible conduct including supervision recommendations click here.

How is Supervision Provided?

Supervision may be provided a number of ways. Obviously, face to face supervision, where the supervisor is watching the implementation, is ideal. However, this is not always possible. Thus, other types of supervision may be provided. Supervisors may watch live video feed, they may watch previously recorded video, they may have sessions over Skype or other similar technology (we use WebEx for privacy purposes).

How Many People Can a BCBA Supervise?

As supervisors, we have to carefully build our caseload so that all of our clients receive appropriate services. Again, there is no minimum number to follow. We have our guidelines for responsible conduct that we should follow. There are only so many hours in the day. While many people burn the candle at both ends, it is difficult to provide supervision while clients are sleeping. Thus, case loads should be reasonable. When I worked for a large provider, it was common for individuals to have 14-15 clients on their caseload.

How is Supervision Validated?

Supervision is validated in a number of ways. We prefer to use the feedback form during formal supervision. However, if the implementers are not seeking certification, it is not uncommon to provide supervision without written documentation. For example, yesterday, I provided supervision to staff for about 30 minutes regarding a client at his school. We did not document the session because neither implementers is seeking certification.

Additional Resources

Supervision is a tricky issue. Your questions are completely appropriate. Please feel free to visit other sources of support.

  1. The Behavior Analysis Certification Board http://www.bacb.com
  2. The Association for Professional Behavior Analysts  http://www.apbahome.net
  3. The Association for Behavior Analysts International http://www.abainternational.org


If you have concerns about the supervision your child receives, be sure to address it with the BCBA who is responsible for your child’s case. In some instances, the supervision may be limited to funding. If you want more supervision than is funded, consider paying for additional supervision. Perhaps additional staff should be brought on to help (e.g., I’m seeking a BCBA to assist me with cases). Finally, if you cannot get the issue resolved, consider asking for a new BCBA or report the individual to the BACB. You will need extensive documentation but it may result in more appropriate supervision for your child.

We hope that helps.  And of course, come back and visit us often!

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Here at Applied Behavioral Strategies, our mission is to improve the quality of life through effective intervention. One way we hope to do that is by reviewing research articles for our readers. Today’s article is titled, “Replicating Milgrim”. The author, Jerry Burger, published the study in the journal, American Psychologist.

Study Purpose

The purpose of Dr. Burger’s study was to replicate the work of Milgram whose study series is known to many. (In case you are thinking–“who the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks” is Milgram, think back to the study where the supervisor told the participants to shock the “client” and the study participants did! Repeatedly!!). Psychologists now refer to those studies as the Obedience Studies.

Burger wondered, if after all these years of education, training, human compassion, and so forth, if, in fact, people today would engage in the same behavior. Burger took several steps to ensure the safety of participants in the study (yes, the ones who would be giving shock to the “learner”)

Study Methods

Participants included 29 men and 41 women with a mean age of 42 years. Participants were promised $50 for their time (two 45-minute sessions). Participants learned that they earned the money even if they withdrew from the study. Participants who were familiar with the experiment or who had extensive psychology training were excluded from the study. Experimenters then screened the remaining participants for any possible mental health condition or a reasons that may have resulted in a negative or harmful reaction from participating in the study. Researchers told participants they could quit at any time and that they could be videotaped at any time. Researchers assigned participants to one of two conditions.

The base condition consisted of the participant meeting the experimenter and the confederate (inside experimenter with knowledge of the study). The experimenter explained to the participant and the confederate that they would be in a study. He then paid both of them to give the impression that the study was randomized. Then he had them “draw” to determine who would be the teacher and who would be the learner. The “drawing” was rigged so that the participant always served as the teacher.


The experimenter then strapped the confederate in to the chair and attached the electrodes all the while explaining to the participant why he completed his step (e.g., to keep from burning him). Next, the experimenter told the confederate to learn the pairs of words. The experimenter told the confederate that the participant would be testing him and if he missed any answers, he would be administered a shock.

Next the experimenter taught the participant how to administer a shock. He provided a small one to the participant if he/she wanted one. The experimenter told the participant to administer a shock following each incorrect answer. He also instructed the participant to increase the intensity of the shock following each incorrect answer. Finally, the experimenter told the participant the importance of following study procedures .

The modeled refusal condition consisted of the participant meeting the experiment and 2 confederates. One confederate served as a teacher alongside the participant and the other confederate served as the learner. In this condition, the participant observed another “teacher” following the protocol. In this condition, the “teacher” (who happened to be the same gender as the participant) acted scared of the study after the first shock and then after the second shock decided that he/she would quit. The experimenter then allowed the participant to take over and continue as in the base condition.

In both conditions, the researchers enforced strict rules for ending the experiment and keeping the participant safe.


In the base condition 12 out of 18 men and 16 out of 22 women (70% total) continued to administer shock treatments, despite the cries and yelps from the confederate. Meanwhile in the modeled refusal condition, 6 out of 11 men and 13 out of 19 women continued to administer shock treatments.

The researchers completed several personality assessments on the participants and used those results in additional analyses. Statistical analysis did not find any difference between scores on empathy. However statistical analysis revealed differences among participants with a strong desire for control in that they were more likely to stop the study.

Sadly, participants today responded very similarly to those participants in the 1960s.

Take Home Points

As behavior analysts, behavior analysts in training, teachers, and parents, use caution when you are instructed to implement a procedure that you may disagree with. As demonstrated in this study, humans are more likely to follow orders rather than stand up and refuse or question the treatment. When our children are being shocked (as those in Judge Rotenberg Center), restrained, and secluded, perhaps we should seek a 2nd opinion. Isn’t that what we do in medicine when we question a recommendation?

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