Forming ABA Therapists


A very important component in recovering children with autism is the therapist’s performance because they are directly involved in teaching them abilities. Due to this reason, at the “Horia Moțoi” Centre we daily spent time on perfecting the competences of the team through individual and group trainings. From the first day a tutor becomes a member of our team, a continous learning process begins. 

The Training is Structured in Manners of Teaching

• Each modul has theoretical instructions, offers a video or live working model with children, roleplay games, video analysis and supervised practice.

• For each model, the tutor accesses learning material, depending on the specific subject (ex: relevant chapters from books, conferences on that theme, audio recordings, articles, discussions)

• All the models are completed until a certain mastering criterion is reached, which is measurable and specific to the objective, and established by the trainer.

The stages twhrough which a tutor needs to go through when completing a module on a specific theme:

• Baseline: The trainer evaluates the performance of the tutor on that subject, before the training.

• Acquisition: The tutor enters a process of obtaining abilities on that subject

• Fluency: The tutor learns to practice the abilities used while working with the children for increasing time durations, without effort and errors, in the proper rythm. 

• Generalising: The tutor exercises the practiced competences in varied situations with different children. 

• Maintaining: The trainer evaluates whether the therapist’s abiltities persist over time and he/hse offers support where is needed. 

Forming new members of the team:

When a new member enters our team, he/she participates in one week of voluntariat based on which we will decide whether the new member will continue with the next stage: the training dedicated to the new employess. The training includes 12 working modules. These modules form the basis for understanding the ABA principles and the core procedures followed at the Centre.

•For each module, the therapis’s abilities are daily monitored according to sheet  that verifies to which degree the procedure was implemented with fidelity. 

•The results of this monitoring, alongside the specific feedback, are presented to the tutor daily.

•Based on the results from the implementation procedure sheet, the trainer adjusts the support level needed for increading the future performance of the therapist.

•The training continues until the tutor proves his/her mastery in practicing what he/she learned, with children having different degrees of development. For this reason, the duration of the training is different and depends on the learning context and on the performance of the two members involved: the tutor and the trainer.

• After the first training dedicated to those starting this profession, the new members of the team follow the structure and training content concieved for the entire team.

• Among the essential criterion, for us, in selecting new members are: permanent attention on the children and listening to them, observing their feelings and interests, adjusting the behaviour to their reactions, creativity when playing, enthusiams expressed through facial expressions and voice tonality, support when they try to learn something new. 

Team training and supervision 

The formationa and continous perfecting of therapists is one of our priorities. The supervising and team training process takes multiple forms: 

• Teaching the modules is personalised depending on the specific learning manner of each therapist. To give an example, some therapists need more work models, others learn faster if they view videoclips with working models and recieve constant feedback, for others auto-evaluation is helpful. 

•Our objective is that each tutor reaches, in the shortest time span possible, fluency and the correct application of their abilities, independently. On the road to this independence, the trainer chooses the least intrusive, and still efficent, type of support. 

• During the learning modules  each therapist recieves daily recorded feedback and the results on the implementation sheet with the fidelity of the procedures. 

• Therapists have support both from the trainer and the coordinator.

During the unfolding of several training themes, the trainer analysis the things that worked very well, those things requiring adjusting and notes down the useful adnotations. We try to learn from our experience and always improve what we do for future generations. 

Download Handbook BCBA

Some important articles from the therapists' training:

Green D.R., Ferguson J.L., Cihon J.H., Torres N., Leaf R., McEachin J., Rudrud E., Schulze K., Leaf J.B., (2019), The Teaching Interaction Procedure as a Staff Training Tool, Behavior Analysis in Practice

Aherne C.M., Beaulieu L. (2018), Assessing long‐term maintenance of staff performance following behavior skills training in a home‐based setting, Behavioral Interventions

Garza K.L. (2018), Further Development of a Supervision System for Behavior Analysts to Support Evidence-Based Supervision Practices, Dissertations

Garza K.L., McGee H.M., Schenk Y.A., Wiskirchen R.R. (2017), Some Tools for Carrying Out a Proposed Process for Supervising Experience Hours for Aspiring Board Certified Behavior Analysts, Behavior Analysis in Practice

Mille I., Croslan K., Clark H. (2014), Behavioral Skills Training With Teachers: Booster Training for Improved Maintenance, Child & Family Behavior Therapy Journal

Nigro-Bruzzi D., Sturmey P. (2010), The Effects of Behavioral Skills Training on Mand Training by Staff and Unprompted Vocal Mands by Children, Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis

Parsons M.B., Rollyson J.H., Reid D.H. (2012), Evidence-Based Staff Training: A Guide for Practitioners, Behavior Analysis in Practice

Pelletier K., McNamara B., Braga-Kenyon P., Ahearn W.H. (2010), Effects of Video Self-Monitoring on Procedural Integrity, Behavioral Interventions

Sarokoff R.A., Sturmey P. (2004), The Effects of Behavioral Skills Training on Staff Implementation of Discrete-Trial Teaching, Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis

The structure and content of the therapists’ training are applied by Mihaela Iancu, BCaBA.

Mihaela Iancu started working in the field of applied behavioural analysis, as a therapist, from 2009, at “Horia Motoi” Centre. Since then, she remained a member of this team. She obtained the BCaBA (Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst) accreditation in 2014, and helped  families by being a face-to-face or remote coordinator. 

Her main concern these years was the offering of a training that verifies the aquiring of the knowledge, but especially of the practical competences for the persons near children with autism. In her work, research and the team are the main concerns around which everything else is built.

Especially for this reason, she seeks to incorporate in the  modules a teaching style that follows the behavioural analysis principles. She is permanently interested in perfecting the teaching format and deems important to take into account the models and experiences of international organisations. 


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