Starting off

Choosing a career as an ABA tutor but uncertain where to begin?

What does an ABA tutor do?

The role of an ABA tutor is to go to the clients home or school to deliver ABA therapy. This will involve teaching though play, and typically also through Discrete Trial Teaching (this usually involves flash cards, but is not necessarily limited to flash cards). When at school you’re role will be to support your child in the classroom to follow teachers instructions and complete transitions independently. You will also need to take data. Data sheets typically are provided to you. Each child typically has their own clipboard and folder with all their ABA programmes and paper work.

What’s the the first step?

You will need to have an up to date Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) check  and Curriculum Vitae (CV). If you are working independently then you can obtain one through the charity, Mencap. You should also consider writing a contract which states the following

  • pay, (how much, when payment will be, will you be reimbursed for travel)
  • sickness, holidays and cancellations (how each party will notify each other, how much notice is expected)
  • communication (email and Skype meetings, are they chargeable, during what hours can you be reached)

Also you will want to start advertising. This is usually done on Facebook pages (ABA/Autism therapies and families in UK, ABA South London/Liverpool/Surrey/etc., and many more*), Gumtree and VB Community Forum. In your advert give your name, the area you work in or are willing to work in, your experience and any days you have available. Also check these places for families advertising. Contact families that are advertising and send them a copy of your CV.

The next step

I recommend you have a telephone interview. This gives you a great opportunity to get a real idea of the role and ask any questions. The family may ask for details about pay, days, any holidays you have and about your previous experience. They may ask you hypothetical questions (for instance “if a child is struggling to acquire a skill, what would you do?”). After this meet the family, spend some time with their child and then if your offered the role, you can decide if you would like to accept.

The final step

When you start with a new client you will run a few pairing sessions. It may be beneficial to consider having an overlap with a tutor who is already familiar with the child. Be aware that children take different lengths of times to pair with a new person. Pairing involves becoming aware of the children’s likes and dislikes and building a rapport, through associating yourself with fun and nice things. You do this by offering lots of preferred toys and activities and placing very few demands. Placing a few easy demands will begin to develop instructional control. I strongly advice you read Robert Schramm’s ‘Seven Steps to Instructional Control’. This perfectly describes what tutors (and parents) need to do to achieve good instructional control with any child. Also familiarising yourself with the Behaviour Analyst Certification Board’s (BACB) ‘Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behaviour Analysts’

When you’re settled

Make sure you touch base with your consultant/s. It’s always good to introduce yourself. If you have any difficulties you should always discuss this with you consultant. Do talk to the parents too, they know the child best and will probably be able to answer any questions, give you some good techniques, or reveal some powerful reinforcers. Consider attending events and workshops run by other professionals. This will give you an opportunity to develop your knowledge and understanding. You can see events that are happening in the UK in the Busy Analytical Bee newsletter. Subscribe (for free) today and receive the latest edition with the up to date events section. Go to the contact page to subscribe now or email

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