This is the difficult bit. You know very little about Autism and ABA therapy, but now you have to hire the individual who will run your program. Selection of a good Behaviour Consultant is critical to your child’s program.
Where do I start?
The consultant must be on the Registry for Autism Service Providers List (The RASP formerly known as the qualified providers list), in order to receive funding from the BC government.
The RASP is maintained by ACT who is also responsible for handling any complaints regarding the service providers.
The ugly truth
Not everyone on the RASP is a competent Consultant. The sad truth is that there are individuals out there who may do your child more harm than good. The ACT website gives a few tips for picking a Consultant, but you need to be very careful.
A qualified consultant should have a Master’s Degree with a specialty in ABA.
It’s critically important to talk to their current and previous clients, keeping in mind that there are privacy concerns to take into account. After a while you will begin to get a feel for who the quality candidates are. Some parents post on the FEAT chat board with their private email address, asking for confidential feedback about a prospective consultant.
The ABA Support Network is collecting client feedback on Behaviour Consultants and will assist new parents through the selection process. To receive this assistance, you must join the ABA Support Network through their website (membership is free) and request that someone contact you.
Are there consultants available for hire?
The bad news is that there are not enough quality consultants to go around. Many consultants are so busy that they don’t even maintain a waiting list! Maintain your contacts with local parents, review FEAT postings and check with area consultants to see if they know of any new Behaviour Consultants moving to your area. It’s unlikely that you will have immediate success, but keep moving ahead and put yourself on as many wait lists as possible. Even if you are told the wait list is years long, put your name in anyway. You never know what may happen.
At this stage it is tempting to jump at the first consultant or an agency who says yes, but beware of what you are getting into. As hard as it may be, it’s better to wait for a good candidate, than to settle for someone who may do more harm than good.
There is also the option of hiring a consultant from the United States and flying them to Canada on a regular basis. This only works if there are a number of families pooling their resources together to share the travel and accommodation expenses. This may be an acceptable interim solution, but I would recommend that you try to get a qualified local consultant who can visit more frequently. To hire a consultant from the US, go directly to www.lovaas.com to find a competent individual.
Can you fire your consultant?
Absolutely! There is a shortage of consultants in BC so you don’t want to take this lightly, but if your consultant is not performing well (sadly there are quite a few in this category) you should move on quickly. You need to have the confidence as an informed parent to know when your consultant is not up to speed and act accordingly.
OK, you have a consultant. Now what?
First of all, be prepared for sticker shock. The hourly rate will truly take your breath away. Keep your perspective. A good consultant normally has an impressive academic background as well as copious experience in the field. Many of them started out as Line Therapists and worked their way up from there. They may have 10+ years of experience and training to get where they are. The good Consultants are worth every penny you pay them.