Frequently Asked Questions

Common Questions Answered

Not much is known about Applied Behavior Analysis and ABA therapy to those who are not in the field. A recent diagnosis of a child or loved one will come with an onslaught of questions and internet searches. We’ve compiled a few of the most common about ABA therapy in general and about treatment that is out there and that we offer here at at Spectrum. Our goal is to provide peace of mind during panic and perspective in uncertainty. If you are looking for services and have questions you don’t see here, please contact us. 

  • All
  • Prior to Starting ABA Therapy
  • General Questions
  • General ABA Therapy Questions
  • Parent Training
  • Glossary
  • All
  • Prior to Starting ABA Therapy
  • General Questions
  • General ABA Therapy Questions
  • Parent Training
  • Glossary
Is ABA covered by insurance?

As of July 1, 2012, SB 946 generally requires health care service plan contracts and health insurance policies to provide coverage for behavioral health treatments for individuals with autism and related disorders.

How do I get a diagnosis and ABA therapy recommendation?

Your primary care physician (PCP) can refer you to a specialist who can diagnose your child and provide a recommendation for ABA therapy if it supports the diagnosis.

What do I need to start ABA therapy?
  1. A diagnostic report that states (1) an Autism Spectrum Disorder (F84.0) diagnosis as well as (2) a recommendation for ABA therapy.
  2. A copy of the front and back of your child’s insurance card
Does my insurance cover ABA therapy?

Verifying eligibility and benefits is done by contacting your insurance carrier. This process is necessary and can be cumbersome so, at Spectrum, we handle it for you!

If I have a diagnosis, why do I need an initial assessment?

Once you decide on a provider, they will need to perform an initial assessment in order to construct a custom treatment plan for your child. The assessment is necessary because it is the first step in your team of Providers getting to know your child and creating a program that is customized to your child’s needs.

What is the timeline for starting services?
  1. You will receive a Welcome email that includes an Intake Questionnaire. We will need this information for the initial assessment report.
  2.  A BCBA will call you to schedule an initial observation date. During this time, we will review your main concerns and observe your child to assess their needs. 
  3. The entire assessment can take up to 1 month but will most likely be completed sooner. Once the BCBA submits the report to insurance, insurance will provide an authorization for services. 
  4. Once we receive the authorization, we will notify you of your schedule and start date.
What takes place during the initial assessment?

The initial assessment is performed by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Your BCBA will ask to observe how your child typically responds to everyday situations. For example, if your child engages in tantrums when you deny access to a preferred item, we’d like to see that! During the assessment, if your child requests to watch TV, deny access and show us how you typically respond to your child’s behavior as well. This will allow us to come up with a behavior plan that is customized to your child and your family. During the assessment, we will interact with your child to assess your child’s current skill level. Your BCBA will create a comprehensive program to address your child’s main skill deficits.

My child doesn’t have a diagnosis because he/she is under 3. What can I do in the meantime?

Contact the Regional Center of Orange County (RCOC) to get your child assessed for Early Intervention services. Spectrum Behavioral Therapies is vendored with RCOC and we will be able to provide services for your child after he/she is assessed.

What is a treatment plan?

A treatment plan is a course of action your team of therapists will implement. Treatment plans are unique to the needs of each individual- no two treatment plans are alike. Treatment plans are developed by Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) and carried out by Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) under supervision.

What age groups can receive ABA therapy?

ABA therapy is for all ages of those who can benefit from it. At Spectrum, we bring Clients on-board that are between the ages of 1-21.

How long is each therapy session?

The length of therapy sessions depends on the child. Therapy sessions at Spectrum are a minimum of 2 hours long.

What does your higher level programming entail?

We can teach higher level social, executive functioning, and cognitive skills such as planning, perspective taking, sarcasm, using a planner, understanding others’ intentions, and more.

What kind of training do your staff receive?

At Spectrum, all of our staff, from Behavior Technicians to Supervisors, go through an extensive week-long training in which they learn about ABA concepts and principles, behavior management, and various teaching techniques both in class and with our clients. BTs and Supervisors receive ongoing training and direct feedback during overlap sessions as well as regular staff meetings and training where they learn about ABA related topics to further their growth in this field.

Why do you have a waitlist?

Unfortunately, since many of our clients attend schools, the prime time for ABA sessions is in the afternoons. However, if your child is available before 2 PM or if your child’s school allows ABA therapists to shadow your child, we will be able to accept you immediately.

What is ABA therapy?

Applied Behavior Analysis therapy, or ABA therapy as it is commonly referred to, is an evidence-based therapy that focuses on reducing problem behaviors (i.e., tantrums, self-injurious behaviors, etc.) and teaching replacement behaviors (i.e., communicating, skills needed to learn, etc.). ABA therapy also aims to teach skills in the area of social interaction, communication, adaptive, motor, executive functioning, cognition, and play. 

ABA Therapy is a proven treatment for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD); however, it is not exclusive to treating ASD.

How often will I receive progress reports for my child?

Updates typically take place after every session but the provision of detailed progress reporting varies by practice. At Spectrum, we maintain 100% transparency and communication. All of our Parents have access to their child's session notes and progress via an online portal and we are available at any time for any questions regarding anything within those notes. Progress reports are written every 3-6 months. You may ask for a copy of your child’s progress report anytime.

What do I do if I feel like the treatment isn’t working?

You should always communicate your concerns with your clinical team. At Spectrum, we are 100% transparent with our parents and we encourage any questions or concerns you have about your child's treatment plan. Your child will have a clinic meeting once a month where you can bring up your concerns as well.

What are clinic meetings?

Who participates in these meetings?: Parent(s), child, Behavior Technician, and Supervisor(s)
When: Clinic meetings are held 1x/month
What: The parent(s) and team are encouraged to share updates and concerns with their supervisor(s). The BCBA will modify the treatment plan as needed and the clinical team will carry out these updates after each clinic. During these meetings, the BCBA will address as many goals as possible to ensure that your child is progressing through them and if not, modifications will be made to ensure mastery of these goals.

Can sessions and/or parent training be conducted remotely?

At this time, yes! We can conduct therapy, supervision, and parent training remotely.

What does parent training entail?

Parent training looks different from client to client. Parent training goals are created specifically for each parent. Parent training can look like any of the following: Reviewing verbal scenarios (i.e., “What would you do in (situation)?”, reviewing powerpoints/informational documents about Autism/ABA/behavior management strategies/etc., identifying strategies to decrease a problem behavior, working with your child in-person to generalize goals mastered in therapy, etc.

ABA

Applied Behavior Analysis is the application of behavior principles derived from science to create socially significant change. An effective ABA program does not involve only drilling the child at the table for the entire session. The goal of ABA is to quickly move towards teaching the child to learn in a naturalistic setting. See “DTT” for more information on this style of teaching.

BCBA

A Board Certified Behavior Analyst is an individual with a master’s degree and board certification in applied behavior analysis. Each child’s program is overseen by a BCBA. The BCBA conducts assessments, creates the child’s program, modifies interventions as needed, creates a behavior intervention plan, conducts parent training, and train/manage a team of Behavior Technicians.

RBT

 A ​​Registered Behavior Technician

BT

Behavior Technician

A-B-C

Antecedent - Behavior - Consequence

DTT

Discrete Trial Training

PECS

Picture Exchange Communication System

AAC

Augmentative and Alternative Communication

VB-MAPP

Verbal Behavior - Milestones Assessment and Placement Program

Elopement

Running or attempting to leave the designated work area or an adult’s side

SIB

Self-injurious Behaviors

Stereotypy

​​Stereotypy is repetitive visual, auditory, or physical behaviors. Stereotypy looks different in every child. Examples of physical stereotypy include rocking back and forth, flapping hands, jumping up and down, etc. Examples of visual stereotypy include looking closely at objects with the corner of the eye, squinting, etc. Examples of auditory stereotypy include humming or saying/repeating sounds/words/phrases out of context.

It should be noted that we all engage in some type of stereotypy. Hair twirling, tapping pens against the desk, or pacing anyone? At Spectrum, we understand that our clients may engage in stereotypical behaviors as a way to help them focus, express emotions, regulate their emotions, and reduce sensory input in their environment. We focus on teaching our clients to inhibit stereotypy when it gets in the way of learning or attending but also prioritize teaching replacement behaviors for stereotypy.