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Understanding Supervision in ABA Therapy for Autism

Do you ever wonder about the behind-the-scenes aspects of autism treatment? A recent study explored the fascinating world of supervision in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) therapy, shedding light on how different factors influence treatment outcomes.

What You Should Know:

We all know that intensive ABA therapy works wonders for kids with autism. But have you ever wondered about the supervision that goes into these treatments? This study explored how the intensity of supervision, the qualifications of the supervisor, and some other factors might affect your child's progress in ABA therapy.

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) revised its guidelines, suggesting a standard of 2 hours per week of supervision for every 10 hours of treatment, with a minimum of 2 hours per week. This recommendation is an increase from the prior guidelines (BACB, 2012), which advised a range of 1–2 supervision hours for every 10 hours of treatment.
Research has suggested that more intense supervision, ranging from 2.9 to 7.8 hours per month, showed a correlation with improved treatment outcomes. However, the optimal number of supervision hours per month hasn’t been definitively established.

The Key Discoveries:

More supervision hours didn't show a massive jump in the number of mastered skills for the children. Instead, the game-changer was the qualifications of the supervisor. Kids under the guidance of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) achieved significantly more learning objectives. Experience also made a difference, with each year of a supervisor's experience contributing to a 4% increase in mastered skills.

Surprising Insights:

One surprising finding was that the number of cases a supervisor handles didn’t significantly impact the number of skills the children mastered. It seems that after a certain level of supervision, more hours might not necessarily mean better outcomes.

What Does This Mean for You?

Now, let's translate this into practical advice for parents. Understanding the significance of a BCBA and the limited impact of excessive supervision hours on your child's progress can guide your choices in seeking ABA therapy.

This study encourages a rethinking of the balance between supervision and actual treatment hours. Shifting resources from supervision to more actual therapy might result in greater improvements. After all, research consistently shows that treatment hours have a more substantial impact on progress.

Closing Thoughts:

As a parent, you’re always seeking the best for your child. This study helps us understand what truly matters in the world of ABA therapy. It underscores the importance of a supervisor's qualifications and experience, guiding us to make informed choices when seeking therapy for our kids with ASD.

This is just a peek into the study, and delving deeper into its insights might help you make more informed decisions about your child's ABA therapy. The goal is to empower parents with the knowledge to ensure the best possible support for their child’s journey.

Feel free to explore the full study for a more detailed understanding of these exciting findings and how they could shape your decisions when seeking ABA therapy for your child.


Dixon, D. R., Linstead, E., Granpeesheh, D., Novack, M. N., French, R., Stevens, E., Stevens, L., & Powell, A. (2016). An Evaluation of the Impact of Supervision Intensity, Supervisor Qualifications, and Caseload on Outcomes in the Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Behavior analysis in practice, 9(4), 339–348.


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