My eldest daughter, Helena was 2.5 years old when we opened our first ABA Centre. I would often bring her and her six-month-old sister to the center. Sure enough one of the therapists would see Helena and have her join a therapy session as the typical peer.
Helena loved being at the center, she loved the kids, the therapists and even at a young age seemed to know that she had a major role in not only those kids lives but the therapist’s too… She brought energy to the room, and everyone could feel it.
I have to admit though; I was surprised, to say the least when I saw her doing an ad hoc therapy session with her sister when she was four years old. She was mixing and varying just as well as anyone could. J
When parents ask me today about the credentials for our RBTs, I often think back to when Helena was younger (she is now 12) and what made her a valuable part of the therapy session, and of course what makes a great therapist. The answer is simple. Motivation and the ability to play. Yes, of course, therapy techniques are important, as well as following direction. But motivation and play skills can’t be taught… They are a part of you, or they are not.
We all had great babysitters, where we couldn’t wait for them to come and then hated when they left so quickly vs. the ones who sat reading a book or on the phone with their friends. For the latter, it seemed to take forever for mom and dad to get back! The first ones wanted to be there because they loved kids and wanted to play and see them thrive!
We have all hired someone due to having a great education. It looks fantastic on paper. But a great education doesn’t mean the person can play, and play is what will get the kids engaged. Ideally, I am looking for camp, volunteer, babysitting, daycare experience or work experience with kids of all ages in hiring an RBT.
Enthusiasm, motivation, and play skills are my top three hiring criteria for RBTs. As long as the person can be taught, with those three attributes as the base, you will have a great therapist working with your child!
Education, is only one factor – you want someone who will get down on the floor and keep trying new things to motivate your child! Programming is solely that of the BCBA… It’s their resume that should have a great education, but more importantly workshops, workshops, and more workshops. Finding someone with experience working with a broad age range of children, who has attended lots of workshops and are part of a great team (they will have resources available to bounce ideas off of) – then you can feel confident that you made the right choice for your child.