An insight into the start up process
Establishing a Team
Each ABA team consists of a number of tutors who work directly with the child, usually between 2-4 tutors. Tutors implement the programme that has been set up by the consultant and are responsible for making learning fun! Parents usually either find tutors themselves, through various advertising websites, or through recommendation from The Playhouse Foundation. Some teams have university students from Winchester and Southampton Universities on a voluntary basis, as extra-curricular study. With the tutor team, there will be one Lead Tutor. This person is the most experienced tutor and is responsible for ensuring that all data forms are made, completed and organised correctly, and that any required resources are sourced or made. Each ABA team will have a consultant. This person is responsible for deciding what the targets of the programme are and how they will be taught. They are also responsible for establishing behaviour management techniques and protocols that the team can follow, if there are challenging behaviours. The consultant reviews the child’s progress regularly with the whole team present, every 2-3 weeks, and ensures that teaching is occurring in the most effective way for the child in question.
The VB Mapp
The VB Mapp is a curriculum used to assess the skill profile of the child. It assesses different skill domains, including language, play, social, listening, visualisation, linguistic, imitation, group, and early academic skills, across 170 different milestones. It also includes assessments of a child’s barriers to learning. A baseline assessment is conducted prior to the start of ABA, and at various points during the ABA programme to monitor progress. The VB Mapp is an essential part of beginning an ABA programme as it allows the consultant to understand the child’s skills and barriers, and to develop an individualised and comprehensive programme to target the right skills at the right time.
Once a team has been established and the VB Mapp completed, a start up training day is provided to families, and the whole team. The first half of the training day provides general theory and background into the science of ABA, its application to autism, and how that can be used to improve skills and behavioural deficits. The second half the day is child-specific and discusses in detail the results of the VB Mapp, and the directions for the start of the programme, including the initial target areas and how to teach them. Following this, the ABA programme can be delivered. Any new or less-experienced tutors will be provided with practical overlaps from either the lead tutor, consultant, or a training supervisor from another team, to guide them in delivering the programme effectively.
The Ongoing Programme
Once the team is in place and the initial assessment and training is done, the programme can begin! Tutors will come to the house on agreed regular days and times to conduct a session with the child. When tutors arrive, they review the data from the previous session to ascertain how well it went, and keep data records throughout the session, and finish up the data at the end. Sessions are play based and teaching is done through the child’s motivation, whatever that may be. Tutors implement the programme targets as set by the consultant, and these are reviewed in regular team meetings. All team members and at least one parent attend team meetings. Each child can expect to receive up to 30 hours of sessions per week, the average value usually falling between 15 and 25 hours per week.