What Is An ABA Assessment? - Acorn Health

May 26, 2021

What Is An ABA Assessment?

Throughout a child’s life, they will undergo assessments in school for learning and outside of school for extracurriculars so that teachers and coaches understand their current skill level and can tailor learning programs to help them achieve their greatest capabilities.  

In ABA therapy, there are many different types of ABA assessments, all with the same objective.

ABA Assessment Defined

An ABA assessment is a measurement of your child’s performance across several benchmarks, indicating the appropriate developmental age for each skill. to inform the goals and structure of your child’s therapy program based on his or her individual needs. Assessments are designed to review the current skills and abilities of your child, including (but not limited to): 

  • Language and communication skills 
  • Social behavior and interaction  
  • Self-help abilities and daily living skills 
  • Attention/Duration of engagement 
  • Rate of skill acquisition 
  • Play and leisure skills 
  • Challenging behavior repertoires 

Why is an ABA assessment done? 

You may be asking why it’s necessary to conduct another assessment for your child. An ABA assessment is one of the most important steps in your child’s ABA journey. It gives the Acorn Health team the information that’s needed to tailor the program to the child’s skill level, setting specific goals based on the assessment’s outcomes. Without the data gathered from the assessment, the demands of the program may be too difficult or too easy.  The assessment and subsequent treatment plan is also provided to insurers so that ABA therapy can be officially approved and covered under a family’s insurance plan.

What can I expect for my child during an ABA assessment? 

While there are specific assessments that can gauge more specific skills, such as verbal or language abilities, overall, the structure of the assessments are similar. ABA assessments typically will include these three steps: 

  • Gather information through caregiver interviews. During these interviews, we’ll ask questions to better understand your child’s behaviors and abilities while under your care. We’ll ask you to share your observations, challenges, and goals for your child. Your understanding of where, when, and why behaviors are happening will help us understand the full picture of your child’s experiences.  
  • Conduct direct observations. In a comfortable setting, our Behavior Analysts will review specific and objective behavior patterns while observing your child. It may include visiting your home or the school to get a better understanding of how your child interacts in various settings.  
  • Develop a plan of action. Your child’s ABA therapy plan is developed based on these assessments and observations, with concrete goals for your child to achieve and will serve as a guide to their program structure. Typically, the goals include decreasing harmful behaviors such as tantrums or self-injury and improving positive behaviors, such as communications skills. Some of the goals of therapy will include helping your child reach age-normed behavior milestones. The plan will also include strategies caregivers and teachers can use to achieve goals together.  

ABA assessments are typically completed at the beginning of treatment, and then conducted again every 6 months after that to gauge progress and adjust which areas to focus on. If deficits are identified, the program will be updated to address those. However, it is important to note that various skills are regularly assessed during therapy as well. Autism is a complex diagnosis and Acorn Health is committed to continually assessing your child to ensure we are evolving our plan as they continue to make progress. 

If your child is scheduled for an assessment in ABA, the best way to prepare is to ensure your child feels rested, comfortable, and supported. It will serve as the backbone of your child’s ABA therapy journey, empowering them to achieve their fullest potential.  

What are the Main Types of Assessments in ABA?

The primary ABA assessment protocols are for Home Skills, Basic Living Skills, Community Participation Skills, Independent Living Skills, School Skills, and Vocational Skills.

To learn more about Acorn Health and to speak with an admissions specialist, visit Acornhealth.com/admissions or call (844) 244-1818.  

Other Common ABA Assessments

Here are some other standard ABA assessments…

Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment Placement Program (VB-MAPP)

The Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP) is an assessment tool designed to provide a comprehensive overview of a child’s language and social skills.

Grounded in B.F. Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior and developmental milestones, the VB-MAPP evaluates a child’s abilities in various domains including language, social interaction, and learning skills.

The program is particularly effective for children with autism or other developmental disabilities, as it identifies their strengths and areas for improvement, thus guiding parents and educators in developing tailored educational and intervention strategies.

The VB-MAPP’s structured framework and systematic approach make it a valuable resource in understanding and enhancing the linguistic and social capabilities of children, aiming to promote their successful integration and interaction within their environments.

Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills – Revised (ABLSS-R)

The Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills – Revised (ABLLS-R) is an educational tool designed to track the development of fundamental language, communication, and learning skills. It is particularly used for children with autism and other developmental disabilities.

The ABLLS-R offers a detailed, criterion-referenced assessment, covering a wide range of skills necessary for effective communication and learning. These skills include basic listener responses, visual performance, motor and vocal imitation, requests, labeling, and interaction with others.

The tool is not only diagnostic but also serves as a curriculum guide, helping educators and therapists to identify specific areas of need and to tailor their instructional strategies accordingly.

By providing a comprehensive review of a child’s abilities, the ABLLS-R plays a crucial role in developing individualized education plans (IEPs) and intervention programs, thereby facilitating improved learning outcomes and promoting greater independence in daily living.

Assessment of Functional Living Skills

The Assessment of Functional Living Skills (AFLS) is a comprehensive, criterion-referenced assessment tool designed for individuals of all ages who are living with developmental disabilities. It focuses on the practical, everyday skills required for independent living.

The AFLS evaluates a wide array of functional abilities across different environments, including home, school, and community settings. It covers essential areas such as basic living skills, home skills, community participation, vocational skills, and independent living skills.

This tool is instrumental in identifying specific strengths and challenges in an individual’s ability to perform tasks necessary for daily life.

By providing a detailed understanding of an individual’s functional capabilities, the AFLS assists educators, therapists, and caregivers in creating personalized teaching and intervention plans. These plans aim to enhance the individual’s independence and overall quality of life by focusing on practical and achievable goals in real-world settings.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How do I do an ABA preference assessment?

An ABA preference assessment shows parents the probability of their child exhibiting certain behaviors in the future.

What are the three functional assessments for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

FBAs identify the cause of challenging behaviors in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The three methods are indirect, observational, and Functional Analysis.

What is an ABA vs EFL Assessment?

The EFL is based on principles and procedures of ABA but it also pulls from Skinner's analysis of verbal behavior.