In full disclosure, I am the daughter of an engineer. I am married to an engineer. And the way things are going, my son and daughter will probably turn out to be engineers.
When I listen to families discuss the need to want direct therapy from the BCBA only, I fully understand the discussion and the need. But the answer is pretty multi-layered. I find it better to speak in Engineer-eeze or align the BCBA to the corporate layering many families are accustomed to encountering or working within their professional and personal lives.
The BCBA at the most basic level is a gestalt thinker and leader…looking at programming from the many angles and evidence in science of Applied Behavior Analysis. The BCBA is the Chief Engineer. They lead the team, move the team forward, use the data and analysis to make key decisions based upon customer need and best practices. When parents want the BCBA to provide the direct therapy, my answer is simple…the chief engineer cannot hold all of those roles because of the critical need of the analysis and leadership for the team.
In many industries, the Chief is often relegated to a specific subject matter or area of focus. It is typically a standard in technology and auto industries to have these specific boundaries and designations. In more medical and educational industries, there is the unwritten designations of Training, Talent, and Giftedness.
Training is what we all do and encounter as BCBAs and Speech-Language Pathologists; the Talent is really aligning my Passion point with my training (it is something I continually read about, seek out knowledge to sharpen my training and better arm my talent); Giftedness is where I am drawn when my innate skills of exceptionality meet my training and talent.
I remember my godmother, who is one of the best SLPs I know, always emphasize that being great takes the work of reading, practice, and honing your craft when no one is watching. The Chief Engineer or BCBA bares the responsibility for success, the progress, and the win. As I explained to many families (also in our ABA family handbook) that there are the times you see the BCBA and there are times that you don’t. It’s those behind the scenes meeting times of analysis, supervision, calls to the team, creation of training videos, updating programs that are critical to the team executing well.
So while all parts on the ABA team are not equal, they all are essential. Quite frankly, the Chief Engineer needs them to do their job well so that he or she can do their work with excellence.
The burden of the car working well, the technology we use being reliable, and the execution of the ABA program rests on the shoulders and is the dutiful burden of the Chief Engineer.
So now that we know this, what should you really expect from your team?
Well…you should expect the people talent to meet an initial requirement and participate in ongoing performance checks that keep them moving forward as individuals and collectively as a team; a standard process within that organization to make sure that mistakes are not repeated; quality checks; a written protocol and rules to refer to; scheduled Chief meetings; and all the people parts to execute their jobs well in implementation, data collection, analysis, and change; and no fear in keeping people talent that no longer serve the organization nor the team. This is the nuts and bolts of most organizations corporate run…and well, ABA Therapy, is a mini group of professionals focused on the growth and development of your child.
Hopefully, your ABA Therapy team is working themselves out of a job…I know our team at Momentum Autism Therapy is 🙂
~Landria Seals Green,MA., CCC-SLP, BCBA
Chief Engineer (Chief Clinical Officer) at Momentum Autism Therapy Services
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