The Most Outrageous Consultants

Would you believe that some vulnerable clients are being charged up to $500 per month to be on Behaviour Consultant’s (BC) waitlists?  With no services delivered at all!

I thought I had heard it all, but now hearing of this has made my blood boil. How professionals could possibly take advantage of such vulnerable families (usually immigrant families with poor English skills) is beyond reprehensible.

Is it legal?

Sadly, yes. If a contract is signed and waiting fees are specified, then it is legal.

Is it ethical?

Unbelievably according to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) there is nothing about such fees that would trigger sanctioning of one of their members.

Is it right?

In my humble opinion this is disgraceful and unbecoming of a professional. Any Behaviour Consultant taking advantage of families like this should hang their heads in shame.

What Can You Do?

As a parent (especially one new to the world of autism) you need to get involved with other parents and learn what is  appropriate and what isn’t. I would recommend that you join the Autism Support Network Parent Facebook group.  It is a closed group that is only viewable by it’s members.  Parents can ask questions and quickly have them answered without worrying about what others may see online.

Knowledge is power. Please get involved.

Autism Support Network

A special “tip of the hat” goes out to the hard working volunteers of the Autism Support Network. The parent led organization previously known as The ABA Support Network has been re-branded to better reflect their role in British Columbia.

For years now, they have been tirelessly assisting parents new to the world of autism. The countless hours that they have spent on the phone have been completely unpaid and invaluable to families affected by autism.

They continue to expand their reach in B.C. with new parent support groups opening every month as well as focused topic meetings hosted in various communities. Other initiatives include expanding the role of ABA Therapy in schools, recruiting therapists and advocating for families in need.

They have merged with the Autism Education Society and have now achieved charitable status. Please give their website a visit and join their organization (it’s free!)

Well done and congratulations on your re-launch.

Prepare Your Own Therapy Invoices And Save $$$

Who creates the invoices for the therapy provided for your child? The Behaviour Consultants (or agency) will generally submit an invoice on a monthly basis for the Autism Funds Unit (AFU) or direct payment from you. But what about your Behaviour Interventionists (BI’s)? You should take on the responsibility of making the monthly invoice. Why?

  • It gives you more control over the type of services rendered (more on that below)
  • If you leave it to your BI’s, they will get it wrong
  • You will be more aware of the hours that are being billed
  • It will reduce fraud
  • You need to closely track how funds are dispersed

I have my therapists complete a hand written time sheet which are collected at the month end and used to create the invoices that will be submitted to the AFU or held for tax purposes. I track the AFU funds on a spreadsheet or hand written table to ensure funds are available and set aside for that therapist. It sucks away team morale if the BI’s aren’t paid because you weren’t paying attention to how much was in the account.

You must pay particular attention to the “services rendered”. Firstly the AFU has specific terms they want used. Do you think they are going to pay for a particular day if the BI enters the service rendered as “Bike riding with little Johnny”? I think not! For a more detailed discussion of terms that should be used for the AFU invoice refer to the ACT Autism Manual for BC Chap 5.

After the AFU funds are used, you need to think about taxes. Services that can be claimed include:

  • Tutoring
  • Child Care
  • Attendant Care

Therapists who construct the invoices themselves have no awareness of your tax situation and will screw it up by entering services such as:

  • Overlaps
  • Team Meetings
  • Training
  • Travel
  • Materials expenses

All of the above services are ineligible for tax purposes and hence the need for you to control the invoices.

So how would this work for you? For starters, you may want to claim funds from the AFU to the $22,000 (or $6,000) limit. Once those funds are exhausted and both parents are working (and hence eligible to claim child care expenses) you will create invoices listing “Child Care” as the service provided. Remember you can claim up to $10,000 (assuming the child qualifies for the Disability Tax Credit). This is a tax deduction and will usually provide the best tax refund. After these limits are reached you can then assign the rest of the therapy as “Tutoring” which is a medical expense.

If you have a live in domestic helper, the same principles apply. Firstly use the $10,000 child care expenses and then apply the rest to “Attendant Care” which will be added to the medical expenses.

Are you starting to see why you should create your own invoices and receipts? It’s your money and no one better than yourself understands what you should be claiming. Remember that each invoice should be matched with a proper receipt with the required information.

Now you could ask your BI’s to make their own invoices using certain rules, but I guarantee they will screw it up. You will then expend twice the effort to correct their mistakes. It’s much easier to do it right the first time.

I have provided some examples in my Files page of invoices you can create. It can be hand written in table format (keep it neat!) or constructed using a spreadsheet (my personal favourite).