There is a lot of literature on autism and ABA out there. We’ve got some great recommendations for you. A few weeks ago, we were at a conference that had an ABA bookstore. I am like a little kid in a candy shop when it comes to ABA books. So today we’re going over some of the best books for BCBAs.
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Best Books for Behaviour Analysts – “Old School”
So let’s start with some of the oldies but goodies. These are the ones we read when we first got into the field before there was so much available.
The very first book that was ever given to me as an ABA therapist I affectionately call the Catherine Maurice manual. It’s actually called Behavioral Intervention for Young Children with Autism by Catherine Maurice. It was really our guide, broken down into beginner, intermediate, and advanced sections for teaching programs. It teaches how to set up a room and talks to parents a little bit about why ABA therapy is important. And also had some written programs as well.
Teach Me Language by Dr. Sabrina Freeman is in a lot of the programs that we offer in terms of how language is taught, how to support language, how to scaffold, and use receptive and expressive language in different ways. A Work in Progress by Ron Leaf goes through ABA programs as well.
A book on behaviour called Communication-Based Intervention for Problem Behavior by Carr & Levin is about what functional assessment is. It helps you look at the function of behaviour and at communication as a replacement skill. It’s scenario-based, so it’s not just reading through a manual.
The one thing that’s missing from these old-school books is manding. They talk about expressive language, but not a lot about manding. And we know our field has changed a lot since then. So keep that in mind when you’re reading these books.
Best New Books for BCBAs
I recommend Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann to a lot of my learners who are just starting a reading program. An Early Start for Your Child With Autism introduces the Early Start Denver model to parents. And while it’s written for parents, we recommend it to professionals because it provides a really great framework for working with little kids and building those skills really naturally and continuing to expand on them while also being able to work with parents of those little kids.
RUBI Parent Training is really great when you have to do any type of parent coaching. It’s actually a step-by-step manual. Another manual that we really love is called ABA Visualized. It’s a really great picture/manual book to explain those ABA principles in a very user-friendly way. It’s not too thick, it’s not too overwhelming, and it’s a great way to have those conversations with people.
Visual Strategies for Improving Communication by Linda Hodgdon goes through visual schedules, what they should look like, and how to create not only the schedules but mini schedules within those schedules.
The Behavior Code is written by a BCBA (Jessica Minhan) and a psychologist (Nancy Rappaport MD) so it really incorporates that mental health piece when talking about behaviour challenges and how to write behaviour plans for kids who might be struggling with things that are not just behavioural. And it talks a lot about the antecedent strategies and setting up the environment for success, which I think in a school environment is really helpful.
I have the ethics book on my shelf, and I still refer to it even though I’ve been out of school for years. Ethics For Behavior Analysts by John Bailey.
Book Recommendations for Teaching Social Skills
One of the most common questions that we get asked is about good social skills curriculums. And while we’re not fans of sticking to very rigid curricula, we do feel like these provide really good resources and materials for teaching some of the social skills. Socially Savvy is great for preschoolers and it comes up with some fun games and interactive activities, which are ways to practice those social skills. And it also includes a really nice assessment of those skills.
Crafting Connections by Ron Leaf also has an assessment and some really great ideas for social skills programs.
For older students, we use the Peers Curriculum, which systematically breaks down the skills on things that are more relevant to teenagers or young adults, like phone skills.
We also use the Social Thinking Curriculum as part of our social skills lessons. It’s really great for that modeling part where you’re showing the learner a story or you’re doing an activity. You can use the characters and the models that Social Thinking provides.
We could talk about books all day long, and we may do another one of these blogs in the future. But in the meantime, let us know what your favorite books for BCBAs and other ABA professionals are. Leave a comment below!