Welcome to Part 2 of our early intervention blog series. Last time we looked at what makes effective early intervention (If you missed it, you can find it here). Today we offer some advice for parents around starting a programme for your child.
Step 1 – Find a Board-Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA)
The first step in starting early intervention for your child is to find a qualified behaviour analyst with experience working with young children. A behaviour analyst will be able to assess your child, to identify their skills in certain areas. They will then work with you to put into place interventions that are tailored to your child and their environment. They will also be responsible for overseeing your child’s early intervention programme, reviewing targets and progress, and continuously updating the interventions in place as your child’s skills develop in different areas.
The UK Society of Behaviour Analysis (UK- SBA) is a great place to start when looking for a consultant. They hold a register of approved behaviour analysts within the UK. Registrants are required to hold public liability insurance, a current Enhanced DBS check and a safeguarding certificate relevant to the population they are working with. Parents can search behaviour analysts by location and can contact them directly from the register.
The terms used for behaviour analysts can be confusing to parents that are new to ABA, as they may be referred to as, an ABA consultant, a behaviour analyst, or a BCBA. These typically refer to a BCBA qualified ABA consultant, however it is important to check the qualifications and experience of individual practitioners that you contact.
Skybound Therapies have consultant behaviour analysts across Wales and the UK who can be found on the UK-SBA register. There is also more information about each of our team members here on our website.
Step 2 – Assessment
Once you have found a behaviour analyst, they will likely visit your child at home or in nursery and complete an in-depth assessment of your child’s skills in many different areas. They may ask you to play and interact with your child as you typically would and gather information about the skills that your child demonstrates. They will also interact with your child directly, carefully setting up play situations to assess how your child interacts with their environment.
With very young children these assessments often focus on how your child communicates their needs to adults and peers, how they initiate social interaction, and how they play. There are many assessments available and the assessment that is used will depend very much on your child’s age and needs. Often a behaviour analyst will use a combination of assessments to ensure that they develop a full profile of your child and identify priority targets.
Assessments that are often used include (but are not limited to):
- Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) Checklist
- The Verbal Behaviour Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB- MAPP)
- Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills (ABLLS)
- Training & Assessment of Relational Precursors & Abilities (TARPA)
- Promoting Emergence of Advanced Knowledge (PEAK)
Your behaviour analyst will also take the time to discuss their assessments with you and answer any questions you may have. They are likely to discuss potential interventions and what these might look like for your child.
Step 3 – Beginning intervention
There are a few different options to structure your child’s early intervention programme, and your consultant will likely discuss these options with you in detail during their initial assessment visit. They may also advise you on what they believe would suit your child and your personal circumstances best.
The most common programme structures are:
- A parent-led programme – In which parents are trained to implement the interventions outlined, with the supervision of a BCBA. This option is often the most cost-effective for families.
- The recruitment of an experienced ABA tutor – To implement interventions devised and overseen by a BCBA. This option often gives families more support and parents often express that they would prefer someone to help them get going in the beginning stages of an early intervention programme, however experienced ABA tutors with availability can be hard to find.
- The recruitment of individuals willing to be trained to implement ABA intervention – This is a great option for many of the families we work with, as many students or graduates can offer the hours families need for their child and are often motivated to gain experience and learn new skills.
Often families will combine the above options to ensure that their child is able to access early intervention for as many hours as possible.
We hope this advice has been useful and wish you all the best if you are about to embark on this journey with your child.
If you would like to discuss getting an early intervention programme started in more detail, then please complete an enquiry form here and we’ll be in touch.