Amanda L. Sitomer, APARA Autism Center

Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy Services

About the Expert

Amanda is the Chief Clinical Officer for Apara Autism Center. As a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with a Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis, Amanda brings more than a decade of experience consulting with providers and providing ABA therapy in clinic, school, and in-home environments. She leads Apara’s clinical team, overseeing its evidence-based therapies and staff of behavior analysts and therapists.


How do I go about starting ABA services for my child?

Applied Behavior Analysis, ABA, is a therapy based on the science of learning and behavior. If a parent sees that their child is not meeting developmental milestones, the first step is to meet with a pediatrician or medical professional to get a medical diagnosis. Not only is this step for the parent to know the appropriate course of action, but also for insurance. For autism to be covered with health insurance, there must be an official diagnosis from a medical professional.

Then, parents need to make sure the insurance covers ABA therapy, as this is not a required coverage. Afterward, the following steps involve a parent survey, observation of the child, and assessing the child’s strengths and deficits. Once the program is in place, and with insurance approval, therapy can begin at the center or at home.

What makes an ABA center a “good” one?

There are four main qualities that a parent should look for in an ABA Center: the center’s credentials, quality programming, caregiver training, and trusting your instincts. You want to make sure that a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) will be supervising your child’s program every step of the way.

A reputable ABA center has individualized plans for every child that address maintenance and generalization, ongoing direct assessment, and replacement behaviors for behaviors that are being decreased. A significant focus of each caregiver should be the child’s ABA programming and to have them in the least restrictive environment possible. If something seems off or suspicious, follow those instincts, ask questions, and do your research. 

What can I do at home to reiterate what my child is learning?

One of the best things a parent can do to reinforce what is taught at the ABA center is to meet with the BCBA and undergo parent/caregiver training. This is how parents learn how to implement the principles of ABA in their home and community. The best way for children to grow and learn is by carrying over the teaching in the clinic to their home environment. 

How long can I expect my child to be in ABA?

The program length depends on the strengths and deficits of each child. The program can range anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years. It also depends on how quickly they master the skills taught and the continuity of training between center and caregivers. Working as a team and getting consistency across the board is vital. Our goal is to work ourselves out of a job essentially. We want to equip our clients with skills and behaviors to go out into the world and feel confident and comfortable in who they are. 

How does ABA deal with maladaptive/problem behaviors?

We start by looking at the why behind the behavior. The “why” is due to one of four reasons: escaping a demand, denied access to a preferred item/activity, requesting attention, or engaging in automatically reinforcing behaviors. Once we determine the “why” behind their actions, we work at teaching the child how to modify their behavior.
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