Table of contents
- What’s your go to resource?
- Lisa Ford & Chana Gross Discuss ABA Therapy
- What is the difference between a BCBA and an ABA therapist?
- How many BCBAs and therapists does your agency have on staff?
- Do you work throughout New Jersey?
- How will your agency’s specific ABA therapy services help a child be successful in school?
- How long has your agency been practicing ABA therapy? What kind of results have you seen?
- What kind of training do your therapists receive?
- What does a typical ABA therapy session with your agency look like? Are there props or tools used during therapy?
- Today, do your therapists work with case managers at the schools to talk about some of the goals that they have within their IEP?
- How many therapists will be working with the child and their family? I know you talked about the team of the BCBA and the ABA therapist.
- How often will families be able to meet with the BCBA assigned to manage their child’s program
- How does your agency set measures and reevaluate the goals of your agency’s therapy approaches?
- What happens if a parent is looking for an additional goal to be included?
- Is there also Private Pay or any other way to have this?
- How much training is provided for families? What would families be expected to independently implement from their child’s therapy sessions at home?
What’s your go to resource?
For so many families in New Jersey living with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including Autism Spectrum Disorders, the Arc of New Jersey is the go-to source of tools, information, guidance, and support. Circle Care Services had the pleasure of kickstarting their brand new podcast series: Road to Resources. The new podcast highlights supports and services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, beginning with ABA therapy from Circle Care Services.
Hosted on The Arc New Jersey Family Institute’s podcast, Circle Care’s Director of Marketing, Chana Gross, answers 14 ABA related questions in 17 information-filled minutes. Listen here or continue reading to review the podcast in written form.
Lisa Ford & Chana Gross Discuss ABA Therapy
Lisa Ford: 0:00
Hi, y’all. My name is Lisa Ford, and I’m the director of The Arc New Jersey Family Institute. I want to welcome you to our podcast with Circle Care Services. Circle Care Services provides a cohesive team of highly experienced and devoted professionals and partners who work closely with your child’s school. Their BCBAs, ABA, occupational, and speech therapists form a supportive and completely integrated service force infusing warmth, care, and focus into every session with every child.
Today, we’ll be talking with Chana Gross. Chana is the Director of Marketing at Circle Care Services. Welcome, Chana. And thanks for being with us today.
Chana Gross: 0:40
Hi, Lisa! Thank you so much. Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure.
Lisa Ford: 0:44
Sure. We have a lot of questions, so I’m just going to jump right in. The first question for today is:
What is the difference between a BCBA and an ABA therapist?
Chana Gross: 0:56
Okay, so that’s a great question. I think there’s a lot of confusion around that when parents are first starting their children with ABA therapy. A BCBA is a board-certified behavior analyst. They are the most experienced specialists with the highest level of credentialing the most schooling in the field of ABA. And so, they’re going to be the first person that comes in to observe behaviors in a child during the assessment phase, which is the first phase as the child gets started on ABA.
They are trained extensively to collect data to analyze the behaviors that they see in the child. They create the plan of treatment and the goals for changing behaviors, for increasing communication, whatever it is that might be the goals for this specific child. They are also responsible for parent education, which is part and parcel of the ABA therapy plan. And that’s just explaining to the parents what it is that they’re doing. They’re available for parents who have questions.
The ABA therapist works very closely with the BCBA, but their experience is not as extensive. They’re the ones who actually come in and work directly with the children in the session. So they’re taking plans that are outlined by the BCBA and implementing those plans, those goals into a structured session with a child and working with the kid, getting down on the floor. As they do that, they’ll document data, information, observations, and then they’ll go back and convey that to the BCBA. They collaborate. They work together. So, it’s a very close collaboration, and both are extremely important members of the team, but their roles are very different. Is that clear?
Lisa Ford: 3:10
Okay. Great! Yes, very. Thank you. Okay.
How many BCBAs and therapists does your agency have on staff?
Chana Gross: 3:19
We now have close to 100 staff members on our team.
Lisa Ford: 3:27
Oh, wow. Wow, that’s great.
Chana Gross: 3:30
Yeah, we have over 65 ABA therapists. And then, there’s always going to be more ABA therapists than BCBAs because they do the clinical hours, so they don’t spend much more time with the children.
Lisa Ford: 3:47
Do you work throughout New Jersey?
Chana Gross: 3:53
Yeah. We provide services in homes, and we can serve anywhere in New Jersey. A lot of our families come to us from Middlesex County because that is where our clinic is. We have a Center for Autism in Highland Park, where children can sometimes go into the clinic. We can service in the clinic, in the school, or in the home.
Lisa Ford: 4:18
Okay, that’s great.
Chana Gross: 4:19
Yeah, anywhere in New Jersey.
Lisa Ford: 4:20
Yeah, that’s great. Okay.
How will your agency’s specific ABA therapy services help a child be successful in school?
Chana Gross: 4:33
Okay, good question. So, ABA therapy targets behaviors and deficits that are holding a child back from functioning wherever the child may find themselves, right. If the child is in school, then the goals are going to be set up around functions that will help him within the school environment. So, that might be transitioning from subject to subject, staying focused on whatever it is that the teacher is teaching, and the therapist will come into the school and kind of be that one to one aid with the child to help them get the most out of their day in school.
Lisa Ford: 5:17
How long has your agency been practicing ABA therapy? What kind of results have you seen?
Chana Gross: 5:25
Okay. So, Circle Care Services was founded by the owners and founders of The Therapy Place. The Therapy Place is a speech and OT provider in New Jersey. They’ve been for the last ten years providing services for children across all communities, including the autism community. So, they’ve worked a lot in The Therapy Place with children with autism. And about a year ago, they realized the need, and especially after COVID, where children were home and not in school, and there were just so many behaviors coming out. They started a whole new division called Circle Care Services, focusing specifically on ABA therapy, specifically on providing services for children with autism. In the past year since we’ve started, we’ve onboarded over 75 clients.
Lisa Ford: 6:27
Chana Gross: 6:28
Yeah. I guess you can say the need is great, but it’s been very gratifying to see that we can provide quality services for these children.
Lisa Ford: 6:38
Yeah, that’s wonderful.
What kind of training do your therapists receive?
Chana Gross: 6:44
Before a therapist starts, they’re always going to get one on one training. We have our lead RBT. RBT is a registered behavior technician, who is a very experienced ABA therapist. So, they get that one-on-one training for onboarding. And then, once they get started, there’s ongoing training for every ABA therapist with a supervising BCBA. All our BCBAs are supervised as well by our clinical director. So there’s really a very strong, close supervision mentoring structure in place to make sure that everybody has the support they need to be able to provide the quality service that we would like to give.
Lisa Ford: 7:28
That’s great. Okay.
What does a typical ABA therapy session with your agency look like? Are there props or tools used during therapy?
Chana Gross: 7:39
Every child is different. And of course, it’s going to depend on their age, and it’s going to depend on what motivates them. A really big piece in ABA is identifying what motivates your child, what excites the child, what will get him to do whatever it is that you might want to do, and that’s going to be the medium through which the therapy is given.
So, lots of our kids are pretty young. For them, everything happens through play. ABA could be taught using Play-Doh, sand trays, crayons, markers, music. It can be done on the playground. Sometimes we’re just targeting very, very functional behaviors. So, you might see a session in a bedroom, where you’re working on. Picking up laundry or whatever it might be, right?
Potty Training is something that lots and lots of parents would like to address because that can be very difficult as well. So, you know, it really depends on what the goals are. And anything that motivates the child will be brought in. It’s a very, very individualized, customized sort of therapy.
Lisa Ford: 8:53
Today, do your therapists work with case managers at the schools to talk about some of the goals that they have within their IEP?
Chana Gross: 9:12
When they go into the schools, there’s that very, very close collaboration with the school teachers, and then they’re available for consultation with case management for sure. We have a lot of our therapists getting on those team meetings just to advocate for the child or to support the parent in advocating for the child. Yeah. So, there’s definitely that component. Yes.
Lisa Ford: 9:36
How many therapists will be working with the child and their family? I know you talked about the team of the BCBA and the ABA therapist.
Chana Gross: 9:46
Typically every family is assigned one BCBA and one ABA therapist, it could happen that a child who requires many hours of therapy will be assigned two ABA therapists, but that’s not a typical scenario.
Lisa Ford: 10:02
How often will families be able to meet with the BCBA assigned to manage their child’s program?
Chana Gross: 10:11
BCBA is going to be available once a week for parents.
Lisa Ford: 10:16
Wow, that’s great.
Chana Gross: 10:18
Yes. Yeah. Insurance requires that collaboration. But I believe insurance only requires it once a month. We do make our BCBs available. They schedule sessions with parents once a week, depending on how many hours the child gets. I think that’s what will determine how long each session is. So, it is kind of like a percentage of how much therapy the child is getting, but it’s a very important piece because the therapist only sees a snippet. They’re only there for a specific amount of time, and the child needs that consistency to really acquire the skills and retain them.
Lisa Ford: 11:00
Right. Right. Right. Okay.
How does your agency set measures and reevaluate the goals of your agency’s therapy approaches?
Chana Gross: 11:14
Okay, so we have a quality assurance team, as well as a clinical director who stays on top of all that. Parents are really the specialist on their own children. So, parents’ input is always welcomed and always considered. It’s really like a three-part team. The BCBA, the ABA therapist, and the parents work together to constantly assess and reassess goals. We set goals. We reach them. We reassess. So, there’s that process that’s ongoing.
Lisa Ford: 11:50
What happens if a parent is looking for an additional goal to be included?
Chana Gross: 11:56
So yeah, parents actually have access to our portal, where we have all the goals mapped out and all the programs set up so they can see what’s going on. And they can always reach out to the BCBA. Anything that’s concerning them, anything that’s on their mind, anything they’d like to switch or add. There’s that constant communication. That’s really important.
Lisa Ford: 12:23
Yeah. And, you know, you talked a little bit about insurance and families using their insurance to pay for this service.
Is there also Private Pay or any other way to have this?
Chana Gross: 12:37
Yeah, so Private Pay is also an option, except that it can get very costly. Most of our families, you know, go through insurance, and insurance now does cover ABA therapy for children with autism. The child will need an autism diagnosis of ASD in order to have the service paid for by insurance. Sometimes we do have parents who have strong suspicions that their child is on the spectrum. They’re going for assessment. They don’t have the documentation in yet. And they will choose to pay out of pocket until that all comes through. And then, once their insurance comes through, then they switch over to an insurance-paid plan, but it is an option. It’s just not an option for everybody to pay privately.
Lisa Ford: 13:24
Right. Right. I know. I know.
Chana Gross: 13:28
Also, it’s really interesting because sometimes, especially, the really, really young kiddos, like, age two or three, we have groups set up in our clinic for like a full day, if you want to say daycare programs, right. I mean, it’s not a daycare program. It’s an ABA program, but it can take the place of daycare for the child. So there’s like small groups of really young children, toddlers, where each child gets a one on one ABA therapist working with them, setting up their goals and making the most of their day. They can get their OT there. They can get their speech there. They get their ABA one-on-one, and it’s a very wholesome program that takes the place of daycare.
So in terms of financially, you know, if you’re talking about finances, it is a really, really good option because if insurance is paying for that, then you have a program for your child that you’re not paying for.
Lisa Ford: 14:22
Sounds wonderful. Even the social aspect of it sounds great as well.
Chana Gross: 14:26
Yeah, absolutely. And it’s like early intervention because, like, you know, the earlier you get started, the better off the child will be.
Lisa Ford: 14:31
Absolutely. Absolutely. Okay, so our final question for today, Chana.
How much training is provided for families? What would families be expected to independently implement from their child’s therapy sessions at home?
Chana Gross: 14:46
The answer to that question is, “The more, the better.” Right? So training, like we said, is going to be that once-a-week training, but the more involved the parent is, the more successful therapy is. That’s just what we find across the board. When parents are, for whatever reason, not comfortable with the therapy questioning, if they don’t trust the process, it’s a process and parents who embrace that process and put themselves into it and are curious, and they want to learn, and they want to know, and they are looking to implement, and they observe, then their children come out way ahead. So, it’s just the more, the better.
Lisa Ford: 15:33
You would say it’s a pretty good idea for them to sit in on a session to make sure they see what’s happening and they get a good feel for it. And then, when the therapist leaves, they can do that on their own.
Chana Gross: 15:45
Yeah. Yeah. But you know, we do see also that sometimes it’s not practical for parents to do that. They may be working in the next room, and this is their chance to get something done. An adult always needs to be home, so the parent is home during the session. They can come in for snippets of it. They don’t need to sit in on all of it. And even if they’re not there consistently, they’re still getting their training.
It’s more a matter of perspective and approach. Like, sometimes you have a parent who’s either uncomfortable with the diagnosis to begin with, so they kind of like, aren’t as cooperative or whatever it might be. It’s a partnership. We’re all in this for the success of the child. When a therapist gives a suggestion to a parent, nobody’s pointing fingers. It needs to be understood in the context that this is all for the best of the child. And this is how the child will learn best.
Lisa Ford: 16:45
Right. And sometimes, a parent can be a trigger, where the student might not.
Chana Gross: 16:49
I definitely trigger my kids.
Lisa Ford: 16:53
Right. Absolutely. Totally.
Chana Gross: 16:55
Oh, yeah. I mean, parents live with their children all the time. It’s not always as easy to be as patient or as consistent. There’s a lot going on, but as parents, we try our best. Yeah.
Lisa Ford: 17:12
Sounds great. Sounds great. Sounds like a wonderful program. I want to thank you for a great podcast. This is wonderful. What a great resource it’s going to be for our families.
Chana Gross: 17:22
I hope so.
Lisa Ford: 17:22
Yeah, I think it’s going to be great. I will be sure to link your website with this podcast where we’re going to put it up in a few days, and I will make sure to send it over to you.
If you have a child with autism and you’re interested in exploring ABA therapy, Circle Care Services is the leading ABA service provider in New Jersey. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have, and help you learn more about your options. Contact us today to get started with a free consultation.