Parents of children with autism are faced with a wide range of choices when it comes to the education and support of their children. The most important question of all is who’s most qualified to work with your child? Although a great deal of research supports Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) as the only effective treatment for autism, there are still many other interventions that are touted as potentially helpful. Research shows that combining ABA with other interventions is less effective than implementing it alone, with high fidelity and intensity (Howard, 2005).
Not all behavioral professionals are created equal. There is little control over the use of terms like “behavior specialist,” “behavior therapist,” and “behaviorist.” Just about anyone can claim to be one of these, often on the basis of very limited training and virtually no on-going supervision. Consumers are often not aware that these are uncontrolled titles, and may put their trust in untrained, unsupervised practitioners.
The problem of lack of quality control in behavior analysis was addressed by the development of state certifications for behavior analysts, and eventually the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) was formed.
BACB credentials allow consumers some degree of confidence in the education, training, and supervision of the professionals they entrust their children to. If someone claims to have one of these credentials, consumers should be able to find them on the BACB registries, easily accessed online at www.bacb.com.
What does the BACB mean for consumers? Those seeking behavioral interventions for themselves or others can look for professionals who have met the standards of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board with the confidence that that they have a minimum level of education, experience, and supervision and that they are obligated to follow an ethical and professional code. Whether looking for a school program, privately hiring a professional, or seeking insurance coverage of services, the BACB designations can help consumers to determine if professionals and staff members providing services are well-qualified. They are also not at all easy to accomplish, so it is safe to say that someone with one of these credentials has achieved a high level of understanding of the science of behavior and the practice of behavior analysis.
Some states now license and certify behavioral professionals, and the standards for state licensure and/or certification may be more or less than those required by the BACB. Having a BACB credential in addition to state licensure ensures that the professional also meets the BACB’s high standards.
|Credential||Minimum education requirement||Type of work||Supervision|
|Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)||High school diploma or equivalent||Direct implementation of behavioral interventions (paraprofessionals)||Ongoing by a BCaBA, BCBA, or BCBA-D|
|BCaBA||Bachelor’s degree||Practice under supervision, supervise RBTs||Ongoing by a BCBA or BCBA-D|
|BCBA||Master’s degree||Independent practice, supervision of BCaBAs and RBTs||None|
|BCBA-D||Doctoral degree||Independent practice, supervision of BCaBAs and RBTs||None|
Guest post written by Dana Reinecke, PhD, BCBA-D.
www.bacb.com, retrieved January 28, 2017
Howard, J. S., Sparkman, C. R., Cohen, H. G., Green, G., & Stanislaw, H. (2005). A comparison of intensive behavior analytic and eclectic treatments for young children with autism. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 26, 359-383.
National Autism Center. (2015). Findings and conclusions: National standards project, phase 2. Randolph, MA: Author.