By Chisato Komatsu, PhD, BCBA-D
When you have decided on a provider for ABA services, one of the first things a provider will do to better understand your child and family’s needs is conduct an assessment. You may wonder, “Why is an assessment necessary? Why can’t we jump right into intervention and teach my child new skills?” I’d like to clarify that the purpose of conducting an assessment is not to identify what is “wrong” with your child, but rather to identify your child’s needs and to help develop the most effective intervention possible to meet those needs. To develop an effective intervention program tailored for your child, the initial program goals need to be developed based on your child’s current skill level. The initial and ongoing assessment process, therefore, is critical in identifying the current skills and levels and the specific needs for your child.
The assessment process usually consists of interviews with the client and/or caregivers, direct observations, and additional assessment tools and analyses depending on various factors (e.g., client’s engagement in challenging behaviors, requirement of the funding source, etc.). Through the assessment process, the assessor evaluates the client’s current skills and performance levels and also focuses on the environment and how it impacts the behavior.
Based on the assessment results, an intervention program is developed. Many factors, such as the client’s age, are taken into consideration when developing programs. For teenage clients, for example, the intervention may focus more on the client acquiring independent living skills, helping them be more independent in the community, whether that be completing the daily routine independently, going to college, or getting a job. Priorities of the family are often taken into consideration during the development of the intervention program. For example, if the family travels across seas to visit other family members, successfully completing a long flight may be of high importance.
When starting an assessment process, be sure to ask questions. Ask questions to find out what is included in the assessment process, how it is going to be conducted, and how the intervention is developed based on the assessment results.
Watch our video on the value of an assessment.