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Guidelines for Consumers

General Considerations in Choosing a Director of ABA Services
Section I - Qualifications to Direct Behavior Analytic Programs
Section II - Training Necessary to Direct ABA Programs for Individuals with Autism
Section III - Evidence of Qualifications to Direct ABA Programs for Individuals with Autism
Section IV - Additional Considerations


Section II Training Necessary to Direct ABA Programs for Individuals with Autism

The Autism SIG asserts that certification as a BCBA is a necessary, but not sufficient, qualification to direct ABA programming for individuals with autism. Consumers should be aware that the discipline of behavior analysis is broad and varied, and that some BCBAs have little or no experience directing or delivering ABA programming to individuals with autism. The Autism SIG considers the following training and experience, in addition to certification as a BCBA, to be necessary to competently direct ABA programming for individuals with autism:

A. At least one full calendar year (full-time equivalent of 1000 clock hours [25 hrs/wk for 40 weeks]) of hands- on training in providing ABA services directly to children and/or adults with autism under the supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (or a person who meets the qualifications outlined at the top of page 5 of these Guidelines) with at least five years of experience in ABA programming for individuals with autism.

The training and supervision should assure competency in the following areas:

  1. Use of intervention methods that have proved effective for people with autism in scientific studies, and scientific education of interventions that have not yet been studied thoroughly.
  2. Experience in assuming the lead role in designing and implementing comprehensive ABA programming for individuals with autism. The experience should involve designing and implementing individualized programs to build skills and promote independent functioning in each of the following areas: ‚Äúlearning to learn‚Ä? (e.g., observing, listening, following instructions, imitating); communication (vocal and non-vocal); social interaction; self-care; school readiness; academic; safety; motor; play and leisure; community living; self-monitoring; and pre-vocational and vocational skills.
  3. Providing ABA programming to at least eight individuals with autism who represent a range of repertoires and ages.
  4. Employing an array of scientifically validated, behavior analytic teaching procedures, including (but not limited to) discrete trial instruction, modeling, incidental teaching and other ‚Äúnaturalistic‚Ä? teaching methods, activity-embedded instruction, task analysis, and chaining.
  5. Incorporating the following techniques into skill-building programs: prompting; errorless teaching and error correction; maximizing learning opportunities; effective reinforcement and motivation techniques; techniques for establishing stimulus control (including discrimination training); preference assessments; and choice procedures.
  6. Using ABA methods in one-to-one instruction, small and large group instruction, and in transitions across these situations.
  7. Employing a wide array of strategies to program for and assess both skill acquisition and skill generalization over time and across people, settings, situations, and materials.
  8. Modifying instructional programs based on frequent, systematic evaluation of direct observational data.
  9. Conducting functional assessments (including functional analyses) of challenging behavior and selecting the specific assessment methods that are best suited to the behavior and the context.
  10. Designing and implementing programs to reduce stereotypic, disruptive, and destructive behavior, based on systematic analysis of the variables (antecedents and consequences) that occasion and maintain the behavior and matching treatment to the determined function(s) of the behavior.
  11. Incorporating extinction and the full array of differential reinforcement procedures into behavior reduction programs.
  12. Modifying behavior reduction programs based on frequent, systematic evaluation
    of direct observational data.
  13. Providing training in ABA methods and other support services to family members of at least five individuals with autism.
  14. Providing training and supervision to at least eight professionals, paraprofessionals, or students providing ABA services to individuals with autism.
  15. Collaborating effectively with professionals from other disciplines and with family members to promote consistent intervention and to maximize outcomes, while maintaining a commitment to scientifically validated interventions and data-based decision making.

B. Additional and ongoing training in directing and supervising ABA programs for individuals with autism that involves:

  1. Formal training and/or self-study to develop knowledge of the best available scientific evidence about the characteristics of autism and related disorders, and implications of those characteristics for designing and implementing educational and treatment programs, including their impact on family and community life.
  2. Formal training and/or self-study to develop knowledge of at least one curriculum for learners with autism consisting of: (a) a scope and sequence of skills based on normal developmental milestones, broken down into component skills based on research on teaching individuals with autism and related disorders; (b) prototype programs for teaching each skill in the curriculum, using behavior analytic methods; (c) data recording and tracking systems; and (d) accompanying materials.
  3. Formal training and/or self-study to develop skills in using scientifically validated methods to assess and build vocal-verbal and nonverbal communication repertoires in people with autism, consistent with the principles and practices of behavior analysis. This includes augmentative and alternative communication systems for individuals with limited vocal repertoires that are matched to the needs and abilities of each individual learner.
  4. Participation in continuing education to remain informed about the best available research from behavior analysis and other scientific disciplines as it relates to autism treatment. The Autism SIG encourages consumers to ask prospective directors of ABA services for evidence that they have recently participated in continuing education activities relevant to the treatment of individuals with autism like those they will be serving (e.g., preschoolers, adults, individuals with limited vocal-verbal repertoires, etc.).