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with Heather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA

Practice Guidelines for ABA with Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder

The BACB (Behavior Analyst Certification Board) provides an amazing tool for those BCBA’s who work with individuals with autism spectrum disorder. In addition to following the BACB Code of Ethics, being aware and practicing in compliance with the document provided by the BACB specifically for the autism population can help you in your practice.

The document, “Applied Behavior Analysis Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Practice Guidelines for Healthcare Funders and Managers (2nd ed.),” is highly recommended as a resource you should become familiar with if you work with children with autism.

Here is a sample from the document. The document’s executive summary states the following:

The purpose of this document is to inform decision-making regarding the use of Applied Behavior
Analysis (ABA) to treat medically necessary conditions so as to develop, maintain, or restore, to the
maximum extent practicable, the functioning of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in
ways that are both efficacious and cost effective.1

The document is based on the best available scientific evidence and expert clinical opinion regarding
the use of ABA as a behavioral health treatment for individuals diagnosed with ASD. The guidelines
are intended to be a brief and user-friendly introduction to the delivery of ABA services for ASD.
These guidelines are written for healthcare funders and managers, such as insurance companies,
government health programs, employers, among others. The guidelines may also be useful for
consumers, service providers, and regulatory bodies.

This document provides clinical guidelines and other information about ABA as a treatment for
ASD. As a behavioral health treatment, ABA includes a number of unique clinical and delivery
components. Thus, it is important that those charged with building a provider network understand
these unique features of ABA.

A few important points that are discussed in the practice guidelines document include:

  • Continuous assessment to evaluate functioning and progress
  • Addressing socially significant targets of behavior change
  • Considering the function of the behavior
  • Training for caregivers
  • Prioritize behaviors that are harmful to the client’s self or toward others
  • Secondly, prioritze behaviors that are fundamental to health, social inclusion, and independence (ex: feeding, toileting, dressing, etc.)
  • Treatment should be provided in multiple settings; Consider the settings that will promote generalization of skills as well as socially significant behavior targets
  • AND MUCH MORE! (Review the document for more recommendations.)

Here is the link to download the complete document.

Practice Guidelines for ABA with Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Heather Gilmore, MSW, BCBA

Heather is a freelance writer, Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), and social worker. Heather takes interest in topics related to parenting, children, families, personal development, health and wellness, applied behavior analysis, as well as Autism, ADHD, Depression and Anxiety. Contact Heather if you would like to inquire about obtaining her freelance writing services. You can view more articles and resources from Heather at and email her at [email protected] You can also advertise your autism services at one of Heather's websites: Heather is the developer of the "One-Year ABA Parent Training Curriculum."


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APA Reference
Gilmore, H. (2016). Practice Guidelines for ABA with Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 9, 2020, from