What to Expect When Starting ABA Services

What to expect when starting ABA Services with Discover Hope


The first step in starting ABA services is conducting an individualized assessment of the child, which will be led by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) from Discover Hope.

The assessment process will consist of parent interview, direct assessment with the child, and observations of the child in their home, school and/or community settings. The assessment process typically takes 3-4 weeks to complete, and an assessment report will be provided to the family and the insurance company, with recommendations for the hours/week of direct 1:1 services for the child, as well as hours/month of supervision.

The number of hours we recommend will depend on the results of the assessment and the specific needs of the child (the severity of their deficits, their age, their behavioral needs, etc.).  The assessment report will also include an individualized treatment plan, with a description of the goals to be worked on with the child and the parents over the next 6 months. 

Starting Services

Once the recommendations for services have been made and accepted by the family and the insurance company, Discover Hope will provide a schedule for the child’s ABA services.

ABA sessions may be provided between 3-6 days/week and multiple sessions may be conducted on the same day. Depending on how many hours/week of ABA services the child is receiving, they will likely have between 2-5 behavior therapists assigned to their treatment team, as well as a Program Supervisor who will supervise the behavior therapists and a Clinical Director (BCBA) who will oversee the clinical aspects of the program.

When a child is first starting ABA services, therapists will focus on building rapport with the child and getting to know their unique strengths and deficits. Therapists will start to increase the amount of instruction provided and their expectations of the child as they develop a relationship with the child and as the child becomes more accustomed to the structure of the ABA sessions.

ABA Sessions

Each child’s ABA sessions will look different, depending on how the child learns, what supports are needed, and what skills are being targeted.

Sessions may include:

  • Time in a designated therapy space
  • Time spent in common areas of the home
  • Time outdoors
  • A snack time, etc.

The therapists are skilled at embedding instruction into play activities, which allows the child to remain engaged and motivated to respond. Throughout each session, the therapist will work on increasing the child’s communication skills and teaching the child to utilize appropriate behaviors in place of maladaptive behaviors as needed.

Family member/caregiver participation may be required, especially when working on communication, play and social skills. The therapist will provide guidance and cues to the family members as needed during the session. 

Duration of Services

Every 6 months, the Clinical Director (BCBA) will provide the family and the insurance company with a progress report, with any needed updates to the treatment plan. The progress report will identify which goals have been met, where more instruction is needed in developing certain skills, and will make recommendations for on-going services.

Most children receive ABA services for at least 1-2 years, often more than that, and services will continue to be recommended as long as they continue to be necessary, effective, and appropriate for the child.

Ending ABA Services

ABA services are an intensive and 1:1 service that will not be appropriate for your child indefinitely.

As a child nears the point at which ABA services are no longer necessary for acquiring new skills and/or managing maladaptive behaviors or are no longer appropriate given their on-going needs, the Clinical Director will make recommendations to the family about fading ABA services and/or transitioning the child’s services to another service provider (i.e. one that offers vocational training). 

The Clinical Director will communicate with the family well in advance of making a recommendation to discontinue ABA services and will be able to address any concerns and questions well before services are ended.