Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA)?

    ABA is the science in which the principles of behaviour are applied systematically to improve socially significant human behaviour and in which experimentation is used to identify the variables responsible for behaviour change. It is one of the three fields of behaviour analysis, the other two being behaviourism, or the philosophy of the science and the experimental analysis of behaviour, or basic experimental research.

    Said another way, ABA is a scientific field that has yielded a variety of empirically derived technologies for a behaviour change. It is these effective teaching or behaviour-change strategies for which ABA is perhaps best know (e.g., teaching children with autism). Words commonly associated with ABA, either formally or informally, include: technological, analytic, effective, generality, accountable and optimistic. 

    Areas in which the principles of ABA have been successfully applied include, but are not limited to: regular and special education, higher education, business and industry, parenting, developmental disabilities, sports/ health/ fitness, behavioural medicine, speech-language pathology and social issues…to name but a few.

    What does ABA have to offer autism treatment & intervention?

    There are many available intervention models for autism and related disorders but none have received as much research support as ABA-based treatments. The National Autism Center Standards Report (2009) lists behavioural (ABA) methodology as “Established” based on the current scientific literature.  

    From a behavioural perspective, we may see autism as a syndrome of behavioural excesses and deficits. For example, areas of deficit would commonly be communication, social and play skills. Areas of excess would commonly be insistence on sameness or rigidity, problem behaviour and repetitive and stereotyped patterns of interests. Research has demonstrated that we may successfully intervene and teach new skills using ABA so that we bring the areas of communication, social and play skills closer towards the “normal” range and also teach skills to reduce rigidity, reduce problem behaviour and increase appropriate and desired skills. The more skills and abilities we can teach, the more the individual or child can access the same quality of life as his or her peers.

    What is a Behaviour Interventionist (BI) and what do they do?

    As noted above, research supports the one-on-one delivery of individualized teaching, based on and utilizing ABA methods for children with autism. BIs are the direct front-line instructors who deliver the many hours (e.g., 25 or more hours per week) of home or center-based instruction that learners with autism benefit from. During teaching sessions, BIs usually work on a wide variety of skills with a learner (depending on the age of the student), including communication, play skills, social skills and daily living skills (e.g., dressing or organization skills).

    What is a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)?

    The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) is an internationally recognized body that credentials Behavior Analysts at either the under-graduate level (BCaBA) or at the master's/ doctoral level (BCBA and BCBA-D).

    BCBAs and BCBA-Ds have graduate degrees in related areas (e.g., Applied Behaviour Analysis, Special Education), meet course work and experience requirements, and have successfully passed the BCBA exam. BCaBAs have under-graduate degrees (typically in psychology or education), meet experience requirements and have passed the BCaBA exam. Our program at Capilano University is approved by the BACB to offer course work and practicum experience leading to BCaBA eligibility for our graduates. 

    BCBAs and BCaBAs often work as “Behaviour Consultants” who supervise ABA programs for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Behaviour Consultants are usually responsible for initial assessment and program design, as well as on-going supervision and training for BIs and support for parents. In British Columbia, families can use their early intervention funding from the Ministry of Child and Family Development (MCFD) to purchase services provided by Behaviour Consultants on the Registered Autism Service Providers (RASP) list regulated by Autism Community Training ( There are two levels of Behaviour Consultant on the RASP. Category “A” Behaviour Consultants (BCBA equivalent) are able to work independently serving children under and over age six while Category “B” Behaviour Consultants (BCaBA equivalent) are required to work under supervision of a Category “A” (BCBA) professional. Many of our students desire to serve local children with autism by becoming Category “B” Behaviour Consultants on the RASP list. Others wish to use our program as a “stepping stone” towards graduate degrees with most continuing with ABA.

    What should I provide when I contact an agency-based or home-based program for a BI position?

    You should prepare a cover letter that indicates your interest in working as a BI. Your cover letter should reflect that you have done some “homework” and that you do have a basic understanding of what ABA is and why it is a sound evidence-based treatment approach for autism. Be clear that while you may not have experience as a BI, you are prepared to make a year’s commitment to agency and/ or family. You could also indicate that you are interested in the ABA-A degree program at Capilano University.

    You should also include a resume that outlines your educational and work experience.

    Finally, a recent Criminal Records Check will be required. 

    Where can I find work as a Behaviour Interventionist (BI) to meet the criteria of the ABA-A Degree Program?

    Having some experience as a BI before applying to the ABA-A Degree program is essential for the following reasons:

    Lets you know if working with children, youth and their families using behavioural strategies towards behaviour change is the right career path for you;
    When accepted into the program, this practical experience will serve to enhance the content of the academic courses. The minimum number of hours of BI experience required for entrance into the program is 300 hours (which would represent a minimum of a three hour program twice a week for a year). The rate of pay would depend on level of experience and is typically somewhere between $15.00 - $20.00/ hour.

    BI’s work in one of two settings: agency-based program and/ or home-based program. It is strongly recommended that when you contact any of these settings, you make it clear that you are going to make at least a year’s commitment.

    1. You can contact any of the agency-based programs listed below to find out if the agency is hiring and training new BI’s. Please note that this is not a complete list of agencies providing services to families in the Lower Mainland.

     - ABA Learning Centre
     - Monarch House Autism Centre
     - Family Centred Practices Group
     - Laurel Behaviour Support Services
     - Coast Behaviour Analysts
     - The Children’s Foundation

    2. You could check “Craig’s List” on-line or the Capilano University Job Board to find out if there is any home-based program needing new BI’s for their team.

    In order to have a better training experience, it is recommended that students look for opportunities where they can receive mentorship from a well-qualified behaviour consultant who will provide regular feedback/ training. If possible, students should look for home teams that are supervised by a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA) who will be available to overlap the student on a monthly basis (at least). If this is not the case, students should ask what on-going training/ support is available and make sure that there will be appropriate opportunities for skill development. If students are unsure, they are encouraged to contact the program coordinator for a second opinion.