ABA Therapy Red Flags (Part 1)

ABA therapy is the only evidence-based ASD therapy, but the treatment only works if it is done with care. Not all ABA service providers are the same. How can you tell if your child’s treatment is being conducted correctly?

There are some red flags you can look for if you feel your child is not progressing or benefitting from ABA therapy. The points we are going to talk about won’t cover everything, but they will cover some of the most easily observable ABA therapy red flags. 

We have split this article into two parts, as we want to mention why these red flags can be harmful and what you can do to notice them.

Too Many Hours of Therapy

ABA therapy is a billable medical expense. Like most medically billable services, some ABA therapy providers will look to bill for as many hours as possible. Most people don’t require 40+ hours a week of ABA treatment.

Be sure to look at your child’s program and what exactly is being done from a therapy standpoint. Does the program cover everything your child needs? Are the hours reasonable for the needs of your child?

A note that some people do need a lot of therapy, just not everyone. ABA therapy is not supposed to last forever. Your child will eventually be able to live an independent life with honed social skills. Too many hours of therapy is not something that will necessarily help with ABA therapy.

No Observation or Information

One of the most important aspects of ABA therapy is continuing a program at home. If an ABA service provider refuses to share information or allow observation you may want to take a closer look at the program.

Information should always be available on how your child is progressing. Daily records should be available to parents if they want to know what is going on in treatment. If an ABA service provider is unable to share information, it may be time to take a closer look. Quick note: information and records may take a few days to be logged, each clinic is different.

If you are not allowed to visit your child’s ABA clinic to observe treatment and progress you may have a problem on your hands. Dropping by without notice is not recommended, the situations we are talking about are never being able to observe your child’s clinic & program.

Another red flag related to this is a provider only using telehealth methods (phone calls, video chats etc) for BCBA supervision. A BCBA should be directly involved in each child’s program. The only exception to this is ABA providers located in rural areas, as they may be spread very thin and have a limited number of BCBAs.

Extremely Strict Behavior Requirements

ABA therapy works to help people with ASD adapt to neurotypical social norms. Having strict requirements to not allow normal ASD behaviors may lead to issues with many people.

If a therapy program doesn’t allow things like stimming, forces social interaction, or has eye contact requirements, you may want to take a closer look. Forcing behavior changes through programs or (worse) aggressive interactions is a huge issue for any ABA therapy program.

Some behaviors and issues will need to change over time, but forcing the issue through strict programs or adherence to certain behaviors is not the way to go. Be sure to routinely check your child’s program and progress if you think any requirements of the program are too strict.

ABA Therapy from IABA Consultants

If you have questions regarding autism treatment, education, or plans using ABA therapy, we are here for you! Our goal is to make sure no family is turned away due to financial constraints. Our therapy team would love to talk to you. Find the location closest to you and give us a call. We’re here for you.