Checklists

1. Top Tips
2. Phone Interviews
3. In-Person Interviews
4. Interviewing References
5. Monitoring the Service

Finding and reading information takes time. Therefore, finding time to do so is in itself a challenge. You are on this site in the hope that it will help guide you on your search for appropriate ABA providers for your child. While you are at it, take a deep breath, relax, and roll your shoulders. 

While you need to consider all the tips, it is not a “must-do-everything-on-the-checklist”. Take those that you find practical and suit your needs. 


1. Top Tips

Steps to Finding ABA Providers

A. Compile a List of Local Providers

  • Search listings on this site. If there are not many listed yet, ask other parents (including Autism Ontario Chapter support meetings) to recommend a provider. 
  • You should also ask your Case Manager, Early Intervention Worker or ASO Chapter if they have lists of private providers.

B. Make some Phone Calls

  • Make as many photocopies of the Phone Interview Question Checklist as you have names of potential providers and then start phoning. 
  • Keep a record of everyone you speak to (including dates and what you spoke about) in the appropriate section of your binder. This will become an important tool if you feel you need to write a reflective letter, as described below. 
  • Do not be intimidated by the person you are speaking with. Have them spell their name and give you their title. If they are speaking too fast, do not be afraid to ask them to slow down.
  • Be diligent about asking questions and include any other questions you might have. When you have finished, thank them politely and move on to the next.

C. Find Your Top Three

  • Go through your list and sort out the ones that are inappropriate for whatever reason, and then look at your ‘maybe’ list. 
  • Pick the top three and then book an appointment with each. When you keep these appointments, ensure you have copies of the Sample Interview Question Checklist.
  • Once you have completed the three meetings, go through your lists. You may enlist the help of someone else to provide a different point of view. 
  • Be sure to call references and use the Questions to ask ABA Provider References Checklist.

D. Look for a Provider Whose Ethics are Similar to Yours

  • Ensuring that the answers which compliment your ethics and match your concerns will help you find a suitable provider. 
  • Remember, you are looking for a provider that will have no problem giving you references. 
  • They should offer great service for a fair price! 
  • They should not be intimidating or condescending and they should patiently answer all your questions and consult you when determining goals for your child.

E. Monitor the Service

F. Consider Composing a ‘Reflective Letter’.

  • It is essential that you be organized right from the start. One of the most important components of organization is the “reflective letter”. This is a letter summarizing your understanding of a particular conversation or meeting. While speaking with your service provider on the phone (or in person), make notes. 
  • You may want to follow up your top three interviews with a reflective letter. Using this tool can help eliminate potential misunderstandings, particularly with respect to fees and contract issues.
  • Try to remember everything you can, but don’t rely just on your memory. Do not be afraid to ask them to repeat themselves. Before ending the conversation, read back your notes to the person you were speaking with. If you are meeting with them in person, bring a friend along to take notes so that you can concentrate on the topic at hand.
  • After you have hung up (or left the meeting), write up a short letter containing the information you have written down. Use a pleasant and factual tone. You can open with something like:
    “It was a pleasure to speak with you today (date). In order to clarify our conversation in my mind, I would like to reiterate. If I have omitted anything or misunderstood, please advise me within ten working days. If I do not hear back from you, I will assume my summary is accurate.”
  • Mail the original letter. Make sure to keep a copy in your file in the appropriate section for that agency. If you receive a response, add that as well. If you save the first letter on your computer, it may be used as a template for future letters. This will save you a great deal of time as you will only have to change specific information such as names, dates, etc.
  • The reflective letter is the next best thing to “getting it in writing”. This may come in handy down the road and will go a long way toward avoiding misunderstanding with your service provider.

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2. Phone Interviews

Consider the following questions when first contacting a potential ABA provider by phone...

  • Do you provide complete psychological assessments? 
  • I have a recent assessment from _________________, can you use it?
  • What is the cost per hour for your service including all fees? 
  • What is a yearly cost for your service? 
  • What are the minimum hours of therapy you offer?
  • Do you have a psychologist that supervises your programs?
  • Who writes the ABA programs and what is their education and experience in doing so?
  • Please describe the training and experience of those who would be working with my child.
  • Am I, as parent, invited to take part in meetings, view sessions, permitted access to programming binder?
  • Will I receive regular progress reports?
  • Please break down the services you provide and their costs. 
  • For example can you:
  • Set up the home program so that I can run it myself?
  • Provide training to myself and others?
  • Train my staff?
  • Have a mixture of your staff and mine?
  • Provide a senior therapist to write programs and oversee only?
  • Supervision by a psychologist?
  • Video viewing?
  • Regular assessments by psychologist?

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3. In-Person Interviews

 Consider the following questions when interviewing a potential ABA provider...

  • What age groups do you take?
  • Do you require a full psychological assessment before implementing your program? If so:
  • Can I use the assessment I already have from ______ (state clinic, be ready to read off a list of which tests were used in obtaining the diagnosis)?
  • Who conducts the assessment? Psychologist, Psychometrist, multi-disciplinary approach?
  • If I have to use your psychologist to get an assessment, how much will it cost? Is there a wait list? If so, how long? Why can’t I use my assessment?
  • What diagnostic tools (tests) do you use to conduct assessment?
  • Ask for a copy of this assessment.
  • Do you have a wait list for services? If so, how long? Do you provide any interim services for wait-listed families?
  • What is the cost for your team to come into my home to do programming? Please provide breakdowns per staff member. Does it cost less to use clinic services if available?
  • What is the cost per hour for your service including all fees? 
  • What is a yearly cost for your service?
  • Is there an income dependent sliding scale for those not able to afford full cost?
  • Who is responsible for training materials, paper, storage, therapy items, etc?
  • Do you require an adult to be present in the home while your staff is performing therapy?
  • Are you agreeable to working as a team with SLP, OT and other professionals?
  • How often do you hold staff meetings? Can I attend? Are meetings at my home? Who can I invite to attend?
  • Please break down the services you provide and their costs. For example can you:
  • Set up the home program so that I can run it myself?
  • Provide training to myself and others?
  • Train my staff?
  • Have a mixture of your staff and mine?
  • Provide a senior therapist to write programs and oversee only?
  • Supervision by a psychologist?
  • Video viewing?
  • Regular assessments by this psychologist?
  • If you provide a home program: Do you set up the home program? Do you put together the programming binder and provide ongoing binder maintenance?
  • Have you been approved in the past for private funding from the Preschool Intervention Program for Children with Autism, if so, how many times and who specifically approved you. 
  • What training do your workers have? Your senior therapists? (Please be very specific i.e. – which courses, how long were they, who conducted the courses, where they local or out-of-town?)
  • How many workers will be assigned to my child?
  • What happens to my child's program when a worker or my child gets ill or goes on vacation? Do you replace those hours elsewhere?
  • What is your policy in the event my child gets sick? How much cancellation notice do you require and how are the hours made up?
  • How often am I invoiced? Do you provide a detailed monthly statement? What methods of payment do you accept?
  • Will your staff spend any time building rapport with my child?
  • Do you supply a list of resources to governmentally funded agencies (i.e. Kerry’s Place, Geneva Centre) to families?
  • Do you have a transition to school program? Do you work with the family on IEPs, IPRCs, behavioural plans etc?
  • How many hours per week do you recommend to start? 
  • Do you use aversives? How do you define the term ‘aversive’?
  • Who is responsible for writing the programs? What training do they have (if not covered in #11)?
  • Do you work with children exclusively with autism/PDD?
  • How about co-morbid conditions such as seizure disorder? Is your staff equipped to recognize and work around this?
  • Are they trained in what to do in a medical emergency?
  • Do you help with life skills such as toileting, eating problems, dressing, bathing etc?
  • Do you provide integration into the community program? A social skills program?
  • How closely do the senior therapist and/or program supervisor work with the staff, teachers and parents?
  • Are parents involved with the planning as part of the intervention team?
  • Do you train parents how to do programming as well as how to generalize?
  • Are parents welcome to observe therapy sessions? Can they videotape? If not, why?
  • What techniques do you use to manage challenging behaviours such as self-injury, aggression etc.?
  • How long typically does it take for your agency and its representatives to return telephone calls?
  • Please describe your program for communication and language development. Do you use a picture communication system, sign language or other kinds of systems? How do you determine what is best for my child?
  • How do you evaluate a child’s progress and how often? How are the parents informed? Can you provide written updates?
  • Do you come to the home or does the child come to you?
  • Please provide references from other parents who have used your services?
  • When contract is terminated, who owns the information (program binder) about my child?


4. Interviewing References

Consider the following questions when interviewing your potential ABA provider's references…

  1. Do you have a written contract with your service provider? If so, was it easy to understand?
  2. Did the final amount you were charged coincide with costs quoted to you when you first signed with the provider?
  3. Do you find the workers (therapists, mediators or front-line staff, etc.) polite and respectful of you and of your child?
  4. Is the provider imaginative when teaching new skills?
  5. Does the provider include community skills, self help skills, social skills, anxiety self modulation, sensory play and communication skills in their regular programming?
  6. What is their philosophy on teaching communication skills? Do they encourage use of pictures, sign language, speech, high or low-tech devices?
  7. If they work in your home; do they leave the programming area the way they found it? Do they show up for work on time? Leave early?
  8. If the programming is centre based, are they ready to start your child’s programming on time?
  9. Explain to me what happens when your child is called in sick. Do they charge you for a session?
  10. What happens if your child’s scheduled worker calls in sick? Do they find a replacement? Do they postpone your session?
  11. Are you allowed access to programming? Program Binder? Team meetings?
  12. Does the provider listen to your opinions, answer your questions and return your phone calls promptly?

5. Monitoring the Service

Now that you’ve hired an ABA service provider, how do you know they are doing a good job?  


Individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families have the right to know whether persons who claim to be qualified to direct ABA programs and their employees actually can perform the necessary competencies. 

All consumers also have the right to hold those individuals accountable for providing quality services.

Take a look at these questions and determine the answers that will satisfy you. Be sure to use this tool on a regular basis.

Performance: Are they doing the work?

  1. How many therapists/mediators/teachers (workers) currently work with your child and are you satisfied with this number?
  2. What happens if a scheduled worker calls in sick? (Are hours replaced immediately or shortly thereafter? Do they send another worker to your home?)
  3. Have the workers established a good rapport with your child? With you?
  4. Do your child’s workers show up for their shift on time consistently? Do they stay until the end of their shift?
  5. Is the ABA provider amenable to attending meetings with case management providers, schools, etc?

Attitude 

  1. Are workers respectful of your privacy?
  2. Do workers leave programming space the way they found it?
  3. Are you allowed to observe programming?
  4. Are they forthcoming and open when you ask questions? For example: would they take the time to explain how they use data to plan, implement, and evaluate the effectiveness of the programs they are implementing?
  5. Are you allowed access to the programming binder and all data sheets?

Parent Education

  1. Have they taken the time to train you on ABA and provide a background of the philosophy?
  2. Have they taught you how to generalize the skills they teach your child?
  3. Are you allowed to sit in on, and make suggestions at team meetings?

Goals

  1. Are they fulfilling their contracted hours?
  2. Are program goals met in a timely fashion?
  3. If progress is not being made with a program, are changes made to teach the skill in another way?
  4. Would you feel comfortable in recommending this service to another parent?
  5. Do you feel there is a good match between your child’s needs and the competencies of this provider?
  6. Is the provider also helping with: integration into the community, self help skills, social skills, self calming and other skills that have to be taught in a natural environment?
  7. Have they provided some sort of transition plan if your agreement with them is terminated (‘graduation’, starting school, etc)?
  8. Does your child seem to be having fun while learning? Do you frequently hear laughter coming from the programming area?
  9. Are they continuing to meet the answers they provided you in your initial interview questions?

Financial

  • What is the process if your child is sick – do they charge you for the shift if not enough advanced warning is given?
  • Are they fulfilling their end of the contract?
  • Do you agree with the hours they are billing you?

Tips

Start With A Binder…
Purchase a good-quality 3” binder and three-hole punch. As time goes on, your binder will begin to expand into file cabinets, but for now a binder is transportable and will have sufficient room to get you started. 

Keeping Records
On the first page, print out contact information:
  • Address and phone #
  • Contact name
In further sections, add:
  • Date, time and notes about conversation
  • Date, time and notes about appointments
  • Copies of correspondence.

This system should be customized to include whatever is helpful to you. Other things that can be included are: calendar of appointments, price quotes from other agencies, questions you want to ask at your next appointment, and so on.

Keep a close eye on all the shifts worked with your child and write them down on a blank calendar. If they do not match up to the invoice, be sure to initiate a discussion with your provider (not your child’s workers); ensure that discrepancies are handled as soon as you are aware of them.

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