ABA Special Education & Behavior Analysis (Guide) | Acorn Health

August 9, 2023

ABA Special Education: A Guide for Coordinating ABA Therapy and Special Education Planning

The back-to-school season can be an exciting time of the year for families. There’s a lot of positive energy and possibility surrounding teachers, new friends, new school supplies, and so much more. 

For families who have children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as other physical or learning disabilities, it’s also a time to navigate your school’s policies around ABA therapy delivery and additional supports and accommodations, including special education services.

We understand how potentially daunting the process can be for our primary and secondary school-aged families, so in this article we’ll dive into what you need to know in order to be fully informed on how to best support your child as you coordinate ABA therapy and your child’s formal education needs. 

Integrating ABA Therapy into Your Child’s School Schedule

Incorporating a full ABA schedule into the school year can initially feel challenging for many parents.We encourage caregivers to ask questions and become fully informed on what resources and processes are in place at your school or within your district to support ABA therapy schedules. Here are some questions we recommend asking your school administrator or teacher:

  • What is the school’s policy on early release for ABA therapy that occurs off of school property during the school day? 
  • Does the school’s policy allow for ABA services to be provided in-school during the school day? (Also check with your insurance provider to review if your benefits allow for ABA therapy in the school setting)
  • Does the school offer transportation to or from school for ABA therapy?
  • How can my child’s school team and BCBA work closely together to address ABA therapy and school goals across both settings? 

Autism and Special Education Support

If it has been established that your child with autism also qualifies for special education services through your school district, you will need to ensure steps are taken so that your child receives the appropriate support and that all resources are coordinated properly. Here are a few questions to keep in mind as you navigate the coordination of special education services, which can include individualized education programs (IEPs), 504 plans, or other accommodation: 

  • Has all necessary paperwork been signed and completed regarding my child’s IEP, 504, or other special education plans for the upcoming school year?
  • Has the school team clearly explained the plans and support that my child will receive, and for how long they will receive those supports? Are there additional services they did not qualify for? Why not?
  • Do I have meetings scheduled or know when meetings will take place throughout the school year to discuss my child’s goals and progress?
  • As the school year progresses, do I know who to contact with questions and concerns about the implementation of special education supports and plans? 

Acorn Health Clinicians Are Here to Help

It’s important to know that if a child qualifies for a medical diagnosis of autism, that does not mean they will automatically qualify for an educational diagnosis of ASD. There are several steps to being evaluated for, receiving, implementing, and coordinating special education services. Therefore, some children with autism who are enrolled in ABA therapy may begin their school year without additional special education programming in place.  

Here are key questions to consider and ask your BCBA, your school administrator, or your child’s teacher if your child with autism is beginning the school year without special education services: 

  • Before the special education evaluation process is initiated, what supports and accommodations could be put in place for my child if they are not making progress?
  • If I feel like my child is falling behind at school and may need to be evaluated for additional support services, who should I reach out to first? 
  • Do I understand what to expect during the special education evaluation process? 
  • Do I know who to work with to coordinate any special education planning with ABA therapy schedules and goals?

As the parent and/or caregiver, you are your child’s biggest advocate – and you know your child best. If at any point during your child’s educational journey you have questions or need additional support, our Acorn Health clinicians are here to help guide you and connect you with the resources you need. 

If you’d like to learn about Acorn Health ABA therapy services for your child, contact us at 844-244-1818 or acornhealth.com/admissions.