There is no single quality that answers the question, what makes a good ABA tutor, but a combination of factors that embody a positive approach to the potential of every child.
Tutors must be reliable and committed – Running an ABA programme is stressful for parents and schools and this issue is raised often. The children require reliable tutors in order to receive the correct input at the correct magnitude and frequency. Parents need committed and reliable tutors in order to manage programmes and be able to plan other aspects of the child’s life.
It is generally recommended that tutors offer a minimum commitment of 6 months in order for training to be considered worthwhile. If tutors have reliability issues for personal reasons then they should endeavour to cancel families with as much notice as possible and also express the possibility of this to parents i.e. if a tutor has a sick parent themselves which may require them to go abroad to visit parents with little notice, this maybe something they wish to share with the employing family so that they can have contingency plans in place for the absence. In addition tutors should expect the same courtesy from families i.e. notice of session cancellations etc.
Tutors must exercise confidentiality – Tutors should never discuss clients with other clients or any other person. Parents and schools have a right to confidentiality as do tutors. It is unacceptable to inform others of a child’s progress even if it is great news. As tutors often work in a 1:1 environment it is very tempting when they see other tutors at team meeting and workshops to discuss other children as well, tutors should never discuss Bob during Bill’s workshop. If tutors need time to discuss other children’s programmes or inform tutors of new developments this should be done at another time and preferably during a team meeting. Some parents have created forums for their child that their tutors can access in order to share information and chat. Parents should not put tutors in an awkward position by asking “so how is Bob doing then?” a tutor who discusses their other clients with you will be discussing your child with their other clients.
Photographs of your clients should not be posted on social network sites without the expressed permission of the client. Even with permission, the clients should not be named or their location given. If you have had a tough session and note this on social network sites others may be able to deduce which client it was by knowledge of your timetable or by your ‘check ins’. If parents choose to post pictures of their children and tell other parents about their programme, that is their choice as parents but you should still maintain your professionalism.
Tutors need to be good team players – Working 1:1 can sometimes feel isolating so good communication between the team is essential. Ensure you raise concerns and ideas in a professional manner and accept that although your idea may have been a good one it is not always possible to do things the best way due to funding issues, time issues or training needs of other members of the team. If tutors have issues with other tutors these should be raised with the employer in a professional manner and at an appropriate time. These issues should not be discussed with other tutors or in front of other people, be respectful of your colleagues, and expect the same respect back.
If the child is of school age or approaching school age, it may be part of the tutor’s job to fulfil the role of ‘shadow’ within an educational and social setting. The tutor will be required to understand the process and procedures of supported inclusion into an educational setting and complete any necessary training. Guidance of professionalism within school can be obtained from your case manager or from the Child Autism UK shadowing training course.