By Arielle Lofgren, MA, BCBA and Training Coordinator
The job of an ABA Therapist can be challenging but also extremely rewarding. It is a job that very directly allows you the opportunity to impact a child’s life, and the life of their family. In this role, you will be responsible for helping the child acquire skills they may be struggling with, such as communication. You will also be tasked with helping to shape or extinguish any problem behavior, guiding the child to more socially acceptable ways of expressing their wants and needs. The job is never boring, but if you have the compassion and dedication, it can be one of the most fulfilling things you will ever do.
Below is brief description of ABA concepts and skills that therapists must become familiar with to deliver effective therapy to a child with autism:
ABA therapists work hard to build a relationship of trust with their learners. A huge part of this process involves delivering preferred items and engaging in preferred activities. These activities will vary based on the interests of the learner. The beginning of any child’s program is to follow the child’s motivation as they play and explore Through these actions, the therapist begins to “pair” themselves with fun and is seen as the giver of good things. The relationship builds and the therapist gains instructional control to deliver more effective therapy.
When our learners are motivated for items and activities around the center, we can ensure that learning is fun and relevant to them. In addition, we can determine what our learner is motivated for through observing them in the natural environment. Also, we can help foster motivation for different items and activities through modeling play.
At Cornerstone, the skills targeted for acquisition are tailored to each individual and could vary between individuals. We offer a wide range of skill acquisition programs based on the skills found in the VB-MAPP and AFLS assessments as well as specific areas of deficit for the individual. These might include teaching our learners how to communicate and follow directions, practicing social skills, and learning self-help and daily living skills just to name a few.
ABA therapy seeks to increase socially significant skills and behaviors while decreasing problem behaviors. This is achieved by being intentional about providing reinforcement for the skills we are helping our learners to acquire, while ensuring that reinforcement is not delivered for problem behaviors.
Data collection is essential in ABA. The data collected by ABA therapists is used to help inform treatment decisions made for our learners. At Cornerstone, data is primarily collected using iPads with ABA data collection apps installed. This allows us to collect data quickly to ensure accuracy.
Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs) are step-by-step instructions for how to react when a problem behavior targeted for reduction occurs. At Cornerstone, BIPs are individually written for each child by a BCBA. These plans utilize function-based interventions and seek to teach appropriate replacement behaviors. ABA Therapists are trained on how to follow the child’s BIP to reduce and problem behavior.
At Cornerstone, we take immense pride in our incredible team of RBTs, Team Leads and BCBAs. Everyone works together to ensure clients are receiving the best-in-class ABA therapy Cornerstone offers. Our therapists are building this important foundation for our kids to make progress developmentally, with the guidance of the clinical team leaders and BCBAs overseeing every case.
If you would like to learn more about the ABA Therapist position at Cornerstone, you can read the full job description on our Careers page by visiting our careers page here.
February 1, 2022, Arielle Lofgren, MA, BCBA