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How Do I Get Started with ABA?

How do I get started with ABA? As BCBAs we’re trained to use assessments. However, it can be a challenge to transfer those assessments into curriculum. Assessments are not meant to be curriculum. We do an assessment and it gives us a picture of where the student’s strengths and weaknesses are. And then we create individualized programs based on those needs. Our programs are not made to fit boxes on an assessment. They’re made to teach across operants to have natural generalization opportunities and to be individualized for the learner. 

So we’ve developed a really easy-to-use checklist that we use with a new student as an initial intake. It’s a great way to supplement the other more cumbersome assessments, which we would still do, but this checklist is a great way to guide our programming and to know where to go with it. I think a lot of BCBAs struggle with what to do with an assessment after they’ve done it. How do you know which programs to do? We’re going to show you how. 

Complete an Initial Student Assessment

Our initial student assessment is divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Then within each profile, we also have different skills from attending to imitation and requesting, language, play, etc. These skills are taken from different assessments and different places, and they’re skills that we also have programs on so that we can program across operants on these different skills.

We take the initial student assessment with us when we meet a new student. For that first hour, we get to know where their skills are. We wouldn’t necessarily test each of the boxes, but as we get to know the student, we keep in mind the things that we’re looking for. It’s a really simple form to fill in. You circle yes or no on skills that you saw. In the boxes, you can keep notes for yourself about what you want to work on.

Fill in the Program Matrix

Once you fill out the initial assessment, you can take the skills you want to work on and put them into a program matrix. A program matrix helps you map out where the bulk of the programming occurs. So we want to make sure that we’re hitting a lot of different domains and that we’re not just focused on one area. If you have a beginner learner, then mapping the programs out this way helps us be able to see if the goals are developmentally appropriate and age-appropriate and if parent goals are taken into account as well. 

If we spoke to parents and they felt that social goals were really important, the program matrix gives us a visual guide of what we are actually including. So we can see if the parent goals are even there. Sometimes we’ll be troubleshooting, and we’re wondering why our client’s language is not increasing. We can go back to the program matrix and look at where most of their programs lie. And if they don’t really have any expressive language goals, then that would give us some insight into what we need to focus more on in this area. So it’s a really nice way to visually map out where the programs are in which domain, and what we want to work on and make sure that we’re incorporating the general big-picture needs of our students. 

Download the Necessary Programs as a Member of the Bx Resource

Our next step would be to then go and get those programs that we’ve identified in the matrix that our students will benefit from. Say a student was supposed to work on receptive language and body parts. In our membership, you can access language resources as a beginner skill. We would go into body parts and find the either PDF or Word version of that document so that we can edit it if we want and individualize it for the learner. There are many programs available through our membership that are available for you to download.

That’s how we would develop the program based on the intake program plan and programming matrix. For more information on how do I get started with ABA, join the membership to get the initial intake assessment and program planning matrix.

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