Early Intervention and ABA: From Parallel Play to Cooperative Play

May 26, 2015

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) can be a powerful modality in early intervention.  ABA is a scientific, problem-solving approach designed to produce socially significant outcomes.  Behavior Analysts aim to improve the quality of life for individuals and families by increasing useful or desired behaviors while decreasing behaviors that may interfere with learning. Before ABA can be incorporated into early intervention services, it is important to consider a few things.  Here are some recommendations as services are identified and started.

First steps:

  • Open a discussion with a potential partner provider. This is probably the most important step. It’s key for the provider to understand that they will be providing what are considered developmental services, using applied behavior analysis (ABA) approaches as a treatment modality. The provider needs to have a complete understanding of the difference in our approach from theirs regarding parent involvement. The provider needs to be able to agree to and embrace the Part C philosophy and how service intensity and frequency are determined.
  • Discuss the level of support your program may need. Consider the number of referrals you receive for children already on the spectrum and those who are atypical and may eventually be on the spectrum.
  • Determine how the provider will be paid.

Intermediate Steps:

  • Have the provider identify potential individuals who may be able to work within the Part C world.
  • Have the same open and honest discussion with those individuals. Gauge their comfort level.
  • Ensure those individuals will meet certification requirements.
  • Provide them information for certification.
  • Identify training needed within your own program.
  • Identify training they may be able to give to Part C providers and Service Coordinators who may need to have a better understanding of ABA.
  • Identify what assessments will be used and who will provide training.

Playing together:

  • Add Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BcABAs) to the provider list.
  • Use BA in assessments when appropriate.
  • Continue with open dialogue to catch potential issues as they arise and solve problems.


For more information about early intervention services in Virginia, please visit www.infantva.org.

For more information about early intervention services in the Shenandoah Valley, please visit www.itcshenvalley.org.