Staff retention and education about the natural environment ensure consistency in your child with autism


For so many reasons, the job market is changing, and that includes the world of ABA therapy. Parents want to know that their child is working with ABA therapists efficiently and consistently, with as little disruption as possible. “Staff retention and low turnover are important to families. It makes sense that parents want their ABA therapy center to have strong teams and provide their child with variety and consistency. We focus on teaching the natural environment at Roots, which really helps us, ”says Jillian Burgard, President and CEO of Roots Autism Solutions and Therapeutic Academy, which she co-founded with Jen Link, analyst. behavior certified by the board of directors (BCBA).

“Because of our teaching approach in a natural environment and not a cabin style environment, the kids get to know all the therapists,” says Link, referring to the two Roots sites in Buffalo Grove and Lake in the Hills. “Children and therapists are not isolated. If a child needs one-on-one support, it’s part of their schedule, but most of the child’s time at Roots is spent moving around the whole environment.

The teaching model of the natural environment really helps provide consistency for children in regards to the therapists who work with them, as all therapists at both Roots sites are ready to take charge of and support the learning of the environment. ‘a child in all situations.

“Everyone is fully trained and familiar with each child, so if a child needs to revise colors, for example, a quick overview from the BCBA to the technician ensures that consistency,” says Link. “This model works great when someone is going on vacation or needs time off from work.”

Combined with the intentional and thoughtful integration of new staff and returning students into the therapeutic setting, teaching in a natural environment creates a model where staff can effectively transition into their roles and children can still move on from there. before with their ABA therapy, says Link.

The value of consistency and change

When a child shows progress, it’s understandable for parents to want to keep the good things coming, believing that any change has the potential to derail that progress.

“It could mean a change of paraprofessional at school, or a new teacher or speech therapist. It’s not unique to ABA therapy, ”says Burgard. “All parents want their children to excel and when growth occurs any little flicker is not welcome. It’s true that change is hard, but it’s especially magnified when you see progress with your child. .

Roots’ natural teaching environment maintains a balance between consistency and uncontrollable change, like a teacher leaving the state, for example. “For those things we can’t control, at Roots we do everything we can to minimize these changes and produce healthy responses and outcomes for children,” says Burgard.

“We also inform parents that in the long run there will be a new bus driver, a new teacher and many other changes in their child’s life and schedule, and we support the children and continuously evaluate the ways of teaching through change, ”she adds.

Seek strong leadership

Roots experts credit their consistent staff with strong relationships and high levels of communication within their ABA therapy teams at the Lake in the Hills and Buffalo Grove sites. Satisfied and supported staff members provide a solid foundation for the success of the Roots ABA model of therapy.

“We spend a tremendous amount of time finding the right people and training them so they can work effectively with your child,” says Link. “When a new person arrives, your child will experience a lot of play and bonding and get to know that new person who will integrate programmatic therapy over time, creating a very robust programming schedule.”

This foundation builds on teaching the natural environment, where children learn effective ways to generalize their skills through teachers and situations. “This is the essence of what we do at Roots. Through relationship building and bonding with various therapists, children are able to generalize their skills and progress in multiple contexts, with other people and across environments, which builds their repertoire and supports growth, ”she says.

What parents can do

In the interest of your child’s success with consistent ABA therapy, Link and Burgard offer some key suggestions for parents when selecting a therapy provider – or switching to a new one.

Trust your instincts, says Burgard. If you’re wondering out loud if it’s normal for a therapy team to change 10 times in a few months, there is probably a bigger problem with staff retention at your provider. “You never want to be in this position,” she says.

When selecting a supplier, ask a few key questions. “Find out what the process of training their staff looks like. What is their hiring process? If someone leaves the team, ask how the provider fills this gap, ”says Link. When every day counts, you don’t want your child’s progress to stop because of staff issues, says Burgard.

Also ask to speak to parents whose children are already in therapy there. Learn from them what their experience has been, especially when it comes to staff turnover.

Find out how the provider acts on feedback received from parents and staff. “Do they see things from the staff member’s perspective and change what maybe isn’t working? Link asks. “You absolutely want your supplier to make changes that, in the long run, lead to more success in staff retention and operational procedures that put families at ease. “

Learn more about Roots Autism Solutions and Therapeutic Academy’s two locations in Buffalo Grove and Lake in the Hills at


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