Frequently Asked Questions Categories:
- SARRC's Programs & Services
- About Applied Behavior Analysis
- Diagnostic Services
- Finding a Provider That Works for You
- SARRC Research
- An Ongoing Commitment to Supporting Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
SARRC’s Programs & Services
I just received a diagnosis for myself, my child, or a family member, or I am ready to make a new life transition. Where do I start?
SARRC understands that the autism journey can be confusing and difficult to navigate, which is why we offer a range of supports from diagnostic services, early intervention programs, children’s services, teen and adult services, education and training for families, and much more. We are here to meet you where you are and provide services to help you meet your goals.
- Diagnostic Services »
- Children’s Services »
- Teen and Adult Services »
- Community Services »
- Focused, Short-Term Intervention »
- Comprehensive Services »
- Autism Research Opportunities »
- Family Services »
- Información en Español »
Our goal is to provide a clear path for families seeking a diagnosis, starting services or facing transitions. Discover resources available at SARRC and in your community by contacting our Family Resource Team at 602.606.9806.
Visit our online events calendar, which is an up-to-date way to attend free training and educational events, and more!
About Applied Behavior Analysis
SARRC uses applied behavior analysis (ABA) across our programs for children, teens and adults. Regardless of age, program, or specific intervention, we approach each client as an individual. The teaching strategies and techniques are selected based on each person's unique profile and needs; family and client input; and data on how the client responds to intervention.
The Autism Science Foundation* states:
- ABA is a set of techniques tailored to an individual’s strengths and challenges.
- ABA-type approaches have changed over time. The type of procedures used in the 1960s are different than what is used today.
- Research has shown that ABA-based interventions can help people with autism.
- The goal of ABA supports and therapies is not to change the essence of who someone is, or to stigmatize non-harmful behaviors, but to help individuals and families with ASD reach their goals.
What type of intervention does SARRC incorporate across its programs for children, teens, and adults?
SARRC utilizes applied behavior analysis (ABA) across our programs for children, teens and adults. Regardless of age, program, or specific intervention, we approach each client as an individual. The teaching strategies and techniques are selected based on each person's unique profile and needs; family and client input; and data on how the client responds to intervention.
What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)?
Applied behavior analysis, commonly referred to as ABA, is a scientific approach to understanding behavior. The goal of ABA is to establish and enhance socially-meaningful behaviors. Such behaviors can include academic, social, communication, daily living, professional or employment, or any skill that will improve independence or quality of life.
ABA refers to a set of principles that focus on how behaviors change or are affected by the environment and how learning occurs. ABA emphasizes direct observation, objective measurement, and evaluation of the effects of interventions to ensure they have the desired outcome.
ABA requires the implementation of established principles of learning, behavioral strategies, and environmental modifications to improve skills, teach new skills, and reduce undesired behaviors. In practice, the teaching must be systematic so therapists can identify how behavior can be changed and understand how learning occurs.
There is a large body of scientific support on the effectiveness of ABA for individuals with autism and covers a wide range of skills that can be taught.
Is ABA only for children with autism?
A common misconception is that ABA is only effective for children with autism. While much of the attention still focuses on children with autism and the benefits achieved through ABA intervention, evidence and support demonstrate that ABA is also highly effective for teens and adults with autism.
Additionally, ABA is practiced outside of the autism field. ABA is impactful for other areas such as education, gerontology, sports, safety, and organizational behavior management.
It is important that as much as possible family members and/or caregivers are involved in intervention processes, which, in turn, will better improve outcomes for an individual. Including family members can support consistency and increase the overall intensity of the intervention. Family and caregiver participation should be individualized to meet the needs of the family and client and aimed at improving the entire family unit's quality of life.
Are all ABA-based intervention plans the same?
ABA-based programs rely on different behavior-based teaching paradigms to work on highly individualized skills, and behaviors and, therefore, no two programs should look identical. Instead, you may find some commonalities across plans. For example, using reinforcement to maintain or increase the desired response or providing a prompt to help ensure success may be present. Plans should be developed to best fit the individual and within the scope of expertise of the supervising behavior analyst.
Remember, if you have questions about the intervention, ask! Behavior analysts should provide a clear, intentional rationale for what they are teaching and why they are teaching it. Behavior analysts love talking about the science behind what they are teaching.
What skills can be addressed with ABA?
Just about anything you can think of can be taught with ABA! Often, it is believed that ABA only addresses problem behaviors. At SARRC, you will see clients working on developing a range of skills from riding a bicycle, brushing teeth, and turn-taking, interviewing for a job, practicing internet safety, and engaging in self-advocacy. We rely on our clients and their families to identify the most important skills to them, so we may best help them meet their goals.
What is Pivotal Response Treatment?
Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) is a naturalistic ABA-based approach. PRT focuses on targeting learning in everyday activities and routines. Since learning occurs in naturally-occurring activities, PRT includes incorporating parents, caregivers, siblings, and peers into the mix.
PRT has identified pivotal areas of development that include motivation, initiations, self-management, and responsivity to multiple cues. By targeting these areas of development, PRT has demonstrated widespread collateral improvements in social, communicative, and behavioral areas that are not specifically targeted. Skills taught across meaningful activities often lead to natural consequences and support SARRC’s goal to ensure individuals with autism are meaningfully integrated into inclusive communities. It’s not only the individuals with autism who are learning, but the communities that we are in are also benefiting.
Are there risks associated with ABA-based therapy?
It’s important to note that ABA therapy relies on evidence-based practice, meaning its intervention strategies clinically support effective and produce positive outcomes for individuals with autism.
There are also many ABA providers a family or individual may consider, but it is important to evaluate and select a provider that is high quality, and which prioritizes both the needs of the individual as well as their family. By researching and selecting a provider that aligns with your family’s goals and overarching values as well as employs BCBAs, the highest certification given by the field of behavior therapy, it may help eliminate unwanted risks. As well, communicate openly and honestly with your team of BCBAs and RBTs and be sure to let them know what is working well for your family as well as if something is not. It's a team effort!
As a rapidly growing field, the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) was established in 1998 and has identified several certifications, including Behavior Analyst and Registered Behavior Technician. Both certificates have educational requirements, training, and codes to ensure professional and ethical practice to protect the field and consumers. Additionally, many states now license Behavior Analysts and the licensure laws of the state further ensure the ethical practice of ABA.
Every family and client will engage in a formal consent process to identify risks, and benefits, and address any questions or concerns. In practice, we work with families and individuals to understand their values, religious beliefs, and goals to ensure that the plans we create together are aligned. In addition, daily we engage clients to ensure continued ascent and identify individual preferences that we can include in sessions.
We are open to feedback as well as incorporating feedback from all of our stakeholders. As practitioners, we embrace our SARRC values of learning and people as we stay up to date on best practices and engage in continued education to further our field and serve our community.
What is a BCBA?
A BCBA, or Board Certified Behavior Analyst®, is a graduate-level certification in behavior analysis who delivers ABA therapy. Professionals certified at the BCBA level are independent practitioners who provide and/or supervise behavior-analytic services. As of 2021, SARRC is proud to report we employ the highest number of BCBAs in a single organization in Arizona.
What are the benefits of seeking an autism diagnosis for your child?
An accurate diagnosis is essential to access services. Our diagnostic services team help individuals and families get answers on any developmental or social differences they may notice for their child. A diagnosis of autism is the first step toward effective intervention.
For more information about our Diagnostic Services or to schedule an evaluation, please contact our Family Resource Team at 602.606.9806.
What are the benefits of seeking an autism diagnosis as an adult and what services does SARRC offer for adults?
Seeking a diagnosis from a qualified health professional as an adult can help a person learn more about their strengths and areas in need of support. An accurate diagnosis can also provide information about what services or interventions may be most appropriate.
Research shows that intervention can be beneficial beyond childhood to target autism symptoms, increase independence, develop relationships, focus on adaptive and independent living skills, or gain and maintain employment. We offer several services designed for teens and adults (ages 14+) with an autism diagnosis with options for short-term focused services to comprehensive programming in the home and community.
For more information about our Diagnostic Services program or to schedule an evaluation, please contact our Family Resource Team at 602.606.9806.
Learn more about individualized and group services offered for teens and adults at autismcenter.org/teen-adult-services.
My child has an evaluation provided by our school district, is this enough to receive ABA services with SARRC or another provider agency?
An evaluation by your school district will likely not be sufficient by itself to receive ABA services at SARRC. Evaluations at the district determine eligibility for special education services and are based on an educational determination of a disability, which includes meeting not just the criteria for a specific disability (such as autism), but also finding that a student requires special services.
Most of our clients use insurance funding to access ABA services and require a medical diagnosis of ASD.
Finding a Provider That Works for You
How do I find a provider, and what should I be looking for?
We recommend asking questions to identify if the provider is a good fit for you and your loved ones. When searching for a new provider, consider asking them some of the questions below:
- What services do you provide?
- Do you offer services in the home, school, and community, or at the center?
- How often will therapy sessions happen, and how long is a therapy session?
- What are the qualifications for your providers?
- How will parents be involved in intervention?
- How often will a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) observe therapy sessions and meet with me/our family?
- How will the client and family be involved in their intervention planning?
- How are intervention goals selected, and how will progress and outcomes be measured?
- What funding options do you accept (insurance, private pay)?
SARRC’s Family Resource Team is here to help! If you have questions or need assistance finding the right provider for you, contact our team at 602.606.9806.
How do I select a provider that’s best for my family or me?
Selecting a services provider is a very personal decision and process. Each person or family is unique, and each provider will have different approaches to services. For instance, when you’re searching for ABA-based programs, here are a few questions when exploring the various options to help you find a good match.
What is SARRC’s approach to services?
All of our programs are based on applied behavior analysis (ABA), which has the strongest scientific evidence in the intervention of individuals with autism. Moreover, we specifically incorporate an individual’s motivation into our teaching and focus on core social-communication skill acquisition.
Would I prefer in-home, community-based or center-based services?
Providers understand that each client and their family has their own, individualized goals and needs at any point in their journey. At the same time, goals and needs change and with that, so may the environment. This is why it’s best to work with your provider so they may understand and you may determine together whether an in-home, community-based or a center-based environment is best.
At SARRC, we offer in-home, community-based and center-based services depending on the individualized needs of our client. A home setting may be best for one family, but a community-based setting—like an office or work environment—might be better for someone else, or, working with our team at one of our campus locations is most optimal. And sometimes, a variety of environments is most beneficial for a client.
How involved can I be in my child’s intervention?
At SARRC, each of our programs requires the parent(s), caregiver(s), or guardian(s) to participate in their child’s intervention regularly. The benefits of having a highly informed and consistent provider/parent role lead to tremendous success for our clients. However, not all families can dedicate weekly time to their providers. Therefore, understanding each provider's unique program requirements is important and should be discussed before enrolling in specific programs.
What funding sources does SARRC accept?
SARRC relies on various forms of funding, including commercial insurance carriers, Medicaid (AHCCCS) and marketplace insurance, and private pay. For adults seeking employment services, vocational rehabilitation options are also available. Lastly, SARRC offers scholarships and grant-supported participation for specific programs.
Please contact our Family Resource Team at 602.606.9806 to discuss any questions related to funding and your family’s needs.
Why participate in research?
SARRC's research brings together many methods and scientists to gain a greater understanding of possible causes of autism, identify better interventions, and learn, as well as educate others, about how to improve the quality of life for those affected by ASD and their families.
We believe that collaborating with other researchers helps us better answer some essential questions facing individuals, families, and the greater community. To view a complete list of research participant FAQs, please visit autismcenter.org/research-participation-faqs
An Ongoing Commitment to Supporting Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
SARRC’s Self-Advocate Advisory Board
In December 2021, SARRC introduced its first Self-Advocate Advisory Board (SAAB). SAAB is a group of self-advocates who advise SARRC leadership on research, programs, clinical services, and marketing and communications efforts, to ensure autistic individuals and their interests are represented in how SARRC advances its vision, mission, and strategic plan on behalf of the autism community. Learn more at autismcenter.org/self-advocate-advisory-board.
Person-First and Identity-First Language
Generally, the disability community has advocated for using person-first language, defining someone with a disability as a person first (child with autism versus autistic child). More recently, many autistic self-advocates favor using identity-first language, leading with a person's diagnosis (autistic adult vs adult with autism).
Knowing language evolves, we asked our Self-Advocate Advisory Board whether SARRC should use person- or identity-first language. We learned there is a strong preference to use identity-first language, but conversely, a desire by some to use person-first language.
Therefore, SARRC chooses to use person-first and identity-first language interchangeably, as appropriate, and dependent on context.
We look forward to continually updating these practices based on feedback from our community, including autistic people. It is important to note that our team will always honor what each person on the autism spectrum or autistic person related to person-first and identity-first language.
Does SARRC hire people on the autism spectrum?
Yes! SARRC embraces and encourages a diverse workforce, including those who have ASD. We look for candidates, whether they have autism or not, who best align with the position's requirements and the core values and behaviors that have made SARRC so successful. To learn more about the many career opportunities at SARRC, visit autismcenter.org/careers.