Getting ABA/VB Services Started in Your Child’s School

Mary Barbera Preschool Teacher Reading To Kids

There are lots of ways to try to educate school staff on the principles of ABA/Verbal Behavior and get this type of programming in place within educational settings. Bringing in a knowledgeable speaker on the topic of ABA/VB is probably the most common way to begin. This can often “jump-start” enthusiasm for ABA/VB but will take time and money to sponsor a speaker. If you have a local autism support group or autism school with some ability to bring in a speaker, you may want to try to get that agency to sponsor or co-sponsor a workshop.

Many parents and professionals have said my book (The Verbal Behavior Approach) gave them a great overview of the concepts so for relatively little investment, some parents have purchased multiple copies of my book for their child’s teacher, SLP, OT, and paraprofessionals.

But if education professionals are not motivated to read the book or attend a workshop, you could be wasting your money. And, even if they do hear a knowledgeable speaker present on ABA/VB and/or read my book, they still will most likely have difficulty applying the concepts.

Without on-going consultation and support, it is usually very difficult for teachers to learn how to apply ABA/VB concepts to correctly program and teach children on the autism spectrum. Some schools who agree to provide an initial training on ABA/VB will also contract with the trainer or another qualified Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) to provide on-going consultative support for a particular classroom or school. This is often a very good situation with program oversight provided for the entire classroom of students and training and guidance for the staff.

If you have difficulty getting things going in your child’s classroom or school, another strategy is to start small and focus on getting ABA/VB for your child only (not for the whole classroom). One way to get things started for an individual child is to try to get a BCBA with VB expertise in your child’s IEP for a specified period of time each month (i.e. 4, 6, or 8 hours) for program oversight. Putting staff training (for example 6 hours before anyone new works with the child) in the IEP also can also be essential and the BCBA whose services are the IEP can provide that training.

Having the BCBA hours within one child’s IEP may not change the entire classroom immediately but over time it might. Plus, if these services are in your child’s IEP, the BCBA and staff training requirements will follow the student to middle school and then to high school. This may mean that you won’t have to start your advocacy efforts over again as the child transitions and as staff come and go over the years. Getting BCBA services and staff training in the IEP may be difficult but since the IEP legally drives services, I believe it might be something worth pursuing.