15 Crucial Elements of an ABA Program

15 Crucial Elements of an ABA Program

ABA principles are relatively simple. In fact, even the process of developing a treatment plan is relatively simple as well – at least it looks that way. At a macro level, the process of creating and running an ABA program generally follows these steps:

1.    Conduct Intake (Review all relevant information)

2.    Conduct Skills Assessment (ABLLS, VB-MAPP, Questionnaire, etc.)

3.    Analyze results of Skills Assessment

4.    Conduct Preference Assessment (to identify reinforcers)

5.    Develop Initial ABA Program (and Update Regularly)

6.    Identify targets (e.g. major deficits)

7.    Always start with basic foundational skills (i.e. Behavior and Communication)

8.    Create Lesson Plans

9.    Implement Lesson Plans**

10.  Collect Data**

11.  Review Activity and Results (with supervisor)

12.  Adjust program if necessary

13.  Create additional lesson plans as needed

14.  Generalize and Maintain Acquired Skills

15.  Repeat steps 4 through 14

** Implementers are responsible.


What makes ABA difficult is the need for rapid decision-making. An average ABA program may require hundreds of iterations to maintain treatment integrity. It’s the ability to make the correct decisions, at the right time, that sets good ABA professionals apart from others. This role typically falls to an experienced BCBA.

Note: To maintain treatment integrity, it is strongly recommended that you involve a BCBA during program creation and ongoing program supervision.

Our Level 3 ABA Online Training Program shows you how to tie all your ABA knowledge together to complete all the steps above required to create and maintain an ABA program.

Suggested tools:
Special Learning’s ABA Quick Reference Guide
Journey to Independence – ABA Waitlist Training for Parents
Social Skills – ABA Literature Summary

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Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

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