The Earlier, the Better: Early Childhood Intervention

During early childhood, one’s brain is more plastic (meaning more capable of change and adapting); this makes therapy highly effective during these years because the therapist can identify and address developmental delays before they grow into more severe difficulties.

Early childhood services, which include working on language, play, social, and adaptive skills, are essential not only for the child but also for the parent. 

During these services, parents are provided with tools to help increase their child’s development. The core of early childhood services is based on positive parenting and interaction which can also decrease aggressive and antisocial behavior. 

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services provided by Behavior Trend incorporate early child development practices into the child’s ABA goals and procedures. Behavior Trend’s Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) and Behavior Technicians, who come from backgrounds in special education and early childhood, are mindful of the delicate processes involved when developing a meaningful ABA program for your toddler or young child.  

 In addition, Behavior Trend also provides Early Childhood Services for birth to 3 years of age provided through private pay. These services include Sleep Training, Potty Training, and Child Development. These services are delivered by higher level staff such as credentialed special education teachers and early childhood educators. .  

Recognize These Signs

  • Lack of mobility
  • Repetitive motions
  • Not following simple instructions
  • Not responding to their name
  • Regressing or loss of language
  • Repeating phrases from TV shows
  • Odd interests beyond their age level (i.e. a 2-year old naming all the U.S. Presidents)
  • Not able to feed themselves using their hands and/or spoon/fork
  • Lining up toys
  • Not sharing enjoyment/interest with others

As Bill Gates said, “The first five years have so much to do with how the next 80 turn out”. 

Give us a call and let’s talk through how we can make the first 5 years count for your child.  

Preparations & Predictability During The Holidays

Holidays are full of joy, excitement, energy, and laughter with family and friends.. It can also be full of uncertainty, anxiety, stress, and sensory overload for a person on the spectrum.  During the Holidays, routines become anything but predictable. There are new people, sounds, smells, things in the house, and even significant changes to everyone’s basic self-care routines. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to get you through this time of the year.

Pick and choose:

Children on the spectrum can handle some changes to their routine, but at times it can become difficult overcome a complete disruption to their routine and schedule.  You know your child the best so, remember to pick and choose the kinds of changes that they can handle. Have to leave the party a little early? No worries! Do what is best for your child’s needs. .

Practice and run through social scenarios:

Include a visual or a step-by-step guide to review what the expectations will be for the holidays. Discuss and practice the expectation and what to do when they start to feel anxious or stressed. 

Come early:

Talk with the host of the party ahead of time! Take time with your child to go early to the event and walk around, so they are exposed to the new or changed environment. As you walk around talk about all the differences and what they are going to need to expect when the party starts. You can form a plan with your child and find a safe place to escape to when they need a break during the party. 

Make a plan:

Here is one idea. Put together a calm down/activity backpack (filling the backpack with toys, coloring activities, comfort items, headphones, I-pad, a blanket to sit on, etc.). Consider your child’s likes and comfort toys..  You can also get your child involved by having them help you select toys and items for their activity backpack. Talk to your child about what the backpack is for and how he/she can use it during the party. Then when you arrive at the party, go with your child to find a safe location for Storage.

Communicating with family and friends:

Communicate with your friends and family that your child might need a break from the event. Let them know what it may look like for your child when they need a break.. 

Keep it predictable:

Keeping it predictable is essential during this time of the year. If you have a child with a visual schedule, keep using a visual schedule throughout your day but adapt it for the holidays. You can even put visuals on your home calendar, such as putting a picture of the hosts face on the date of the event.

Keep the base of your routine at least somewhat predictable, such as therapies, bedtime, downtime, eating, and playing. You can help your child enjoy this annual experience with friends and family by prepping and preparing your child for this time of the year.

Have a wonderful, predictable, and safe Holiday season!

From all of us here at 

Behavior Trend!

How to Navigate Insurance to Obtain Services for Your Child

The world of insurance is a tricky maze to figure out alone. Don’t do this on your own! Let us help!

Step 1 Documented Diagnosis

Receive a written diagnosis from a medical (M.D. or D.O.) or licensed psychologist (PsyD., Ph.D.). Some insurers will only want a prescription from your pediatrician and will not request a full diagnostic report. A school report or IEP does NOT count as a diagnostic report. 

Step 2 Understand Your Policy

You can call the benefits department from your insurance provider (number is located behind your insurance card) and ask if ABA Is a covered treatment. Some insurance plans do not cover ABA and some do. During this time, you can also ask about your co-pays and deductibles. If your insurance does not cover ABA, you can reach out to your local Regional Center for assistance for services.  However, at Behavior Trend, we can do this step for you to verify your benefits and eligibility for ABA services. 

Step 3 Document and stay organized

Stay on top of all the documentation you gather during steps 1 and 2 (any reports, assessments, bills, explanation of benefits (EOBs), and communicate with your insurer). They will come in handy!

Step 4 Pick your ABA Provider Carefully!

When looking for providers, it is essential not to go with the first provider suggested to you but to find one that fits you and your family. “It takes a village”.  Pick a provider who has developed relationships with other service providers such as speech therapists, clinical psychologist, and advocates and who has a successful working relationship with insurers. We partner with many local and national resources and would be happy to make referrals when necessary. 

Ensure that a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) is leading your ABA programming (writing goals), not a non-certified staff. The BCBA should be your main contact. 

Step 5 State-specific laws

It is essential to know that every state does not adhere to the same insurance laws regarding ABA services. It is vital to know your rights!  In California, ABA services was a requirement to be covered through insurance for children with autism through S.B. 946.

Step 6 Ready to start this Maze?

Contact us and we will have you speak to our insurance experts! We will take all the information you have gathered from step 1-5 and help you with the process of starting ABA services using your insurance policy! Don’t do this on your own! Let us help.

It can be scary and possibly even overwhelming, looking at all the paperwork and information you have gathered, but you are not alone. We will help guide and coach you through every twist and turn of the insurance maze.

We provide services in Los Angeles County, Santa Barbara County, and San Luis Obispo County. 

Some Helpful links:

Parent Training: An Essential Component to ABA

Parent Training: An Essential Component to ABA:
You – the parent – are your child’s first and forever teacher. As behavior therapists and
analysts we are only in your child’s life for a short period of time. Your child will make
enormous gains during ABA services, but a vital component to not only maintaining but
exceeding those gains beyond the conclusion of services is one thing: Parent Training.
During Behavior Trend’s Parent Training sessions, you and the clinical team will work
together to build individualized parent training goals to meet the needs of your child
and your family. We want parent training to be meaningful to you. We also want to
empower you by providing you with knowledge about ABA, autism, developmental
delays, and other parts of treatments.
Fundamental topics we cover during our Parent Training:
 How to determine why your child is engaging in certain problematic behaviors
 How to have your child engage in things you would like them to do (potty
training, doing chores, etc.)
 How to teach your child language, play, social, and adaptive skills
 How to teach your child to be independent
What does a Parent Training session look like?

  1. Check-in: We want to see how you and your family are doing and how sessions
    are moving along.
  2. Child’s Goals: We review the current goals and progress on your child’s goals. We
    discuss the importance of the goals and where we see the goals moving towards.
  3. Parent-Training Goals: This is where we discuss the specific goals we believe will
    make a big difference in your child’s life now and for years to come.
    a. Review: We will review the importance of the goal we are teaching you.
    b. Modeling: We will show you exactly how to implement the goal with your
    c. Feedback: We will provide you with feedback on how well you did or how
    you can improve.
    d. Materials: We will provide you with or recommend materials that will help
    you achieve these goals like token systems or reminders on your fridge!
    e. Problem-Solve: We will troubleshoot together and come up with plans
    that will work with you and your family.
  4. Summarize: We will summarize our parent training session and develop a goal for
    the next session.

We are here to help support you and your child to build independence, confidence, and
growth using ABA.
If you would like more information about any of your programs, please reach out to us
at or call our offices 818.369.4440.
We are happy to help support you through this journey!

Acronyms Galore!

Professionals often find themselves using several acronyms when speaking with parents. Often this can cause confusion on the parents’ end unless they have been receiving quality and intensive behavior services. 

We have selected some of the most common acronyms you might hear from your Behavior Analyst or ABA therapist and describe their meaning here:

  • AAC- Augmentative and Alternative Communication: This is a general term referring to any alternative mode of communication like pictures, signs, or devices with speech-output. 
  • ABA – Applied Behavior Analysis: This is an evidence-based procedure that can be used with anything and anyone!         
  • ABC- Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence:  This is the term used for the 3-term contingency- how we determine what the pattern of behavior looks like- what is happening before the behavior (antecedent) and what happens after the behavior (consequence). 
  • BCaBA – Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst: A person holding this certification has a Bachelors degree, completed specialized coursework in behavior analysis and received supervision from a BCBA (see below). In addition, they have taken a certification exam! NOTE: a BcABA can NOT program and supervise cases. You must refer to a BCBA for this. 
  • BCBA – Board Certified Behavior Analyst: This person will hold a Masters degree in various related subjects (Special Education, ABA, Social Work, etc) but has taken a set list of additional behavior analytic courses and received over 1500 hours of supervised experience in the field. A BCBA should oversee programming for a child. 
  • BIP- Behavior Intervention Plan: This is the plan that is drafted for problematic or maladaptive behaviors such as aggression, self-injury, etc. These plans can change over time and should be drafted after a thorough assessment of the problem behaviors. These plans should include antecedent and consequence procedures. This is also sometimes known as a the Behavior Support Plan (BSP) or Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS)
  • BT – This is a vague term that can refer to a Behavior Therapist, Behavior Technician, Behavior Tutor, etc. 
  • CCC-SLP – Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech Language Pathology: This person is a specialist for Speech and Language Disorders. Always refer to someone with this credential if you are concerned with specific speech disorders
  • DTT- Discrete Trial Training: This is a type of teaching method that breaks down a larger skill into small attainable goals. 
  • FBA- Functional Behavior Assessment:  This is a form of assessment conducted to determine the reason a problem behavior occurs (the function of a behavior). 
  • FCT- Functional Communication Training: This is a type of procedure used in ABA to teach alternative responses to receive the same type of reinforcement. 
  • IBI – Intensive behavioral intervention:  This type of intervention includes intensive hours and programming usually between 30-40 hours per week of ABA.
  • IEP- Individualized Education Plan:  This is a legal document that requires the school district to provide for specific programs for the child who is identified with a disability.
  • IFSP- Individualized Family Service Plan: This is a legal document for services for a child with a diagnosed disability (under 3 years of age) and their family.  
  • MA, MS – Master of Arts or Master of Science
  • MEd – Master of Education
  • MFT – Marriage and Family Therapist: This person is someone who has training with psychotherapy and other forms of therapy for mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. 
  • NCR- Non-contingent Reinforcement: This refers to a procedure where a person delivers a reinforcer based on a time schedule rather than based on a behavior observed. 
  • NET- Natural Environment Teaching:  This is a type of procedure used in ABA to teach skills in the child’s natural environment. Specific types of prompts and procedures are outlined for NET programs. 
  • PBS- Positive Behavior Supports 
  • PhD – Doctor of Philosophy: This person has completed in-depth coursework and research on a specific topic in their field of study. These programs can last anywhere from 3-10 years. Most will complete a dissertation where they have studied a specific research question in their field. 
  • RBT- Registered Behavior Technician: This person has completed a 40-hour coursework in addition to passing field assessments and an exam with the board. RBT’s are supervised closely by BCBA’s after they become certified. 
  • SIB- Self-Injurious Behavior: This refers to any form of behavior where a person causes injury to themselves. 
  • VB – Verbal Behavior:  This is a type of procedure used in ABA to teach functional language based on imitating, requesting, commenting, and responding. 

Token Boards and Behavior Charts Just Don’t work! I’ve tried them…

When you Google “Token Boards” you are bound to come across over 100 million search results. There are several blogs, stimuli, and information on token boards and behavior charts. Almost all these resources recommend the use of token boards…so why do parents and teachers often say that “behavior charts” or “token boards” just don’t work with their child/student. 

Lets take a look at a few questions to ask before starting a token board with your child/student:

1. Does the child have the ability to wait for reinforcement?

For example, can you have your child do something 5 times before you give him/her the reward? Children under 4 have a harder time waiting for reinforcers. They typically want everything- NOW! 

2. Does your child understand what the token means? 

Lets face it- if your boss said that he/she will no longer be paying you in dollars, but rather in tokens- will you stay at that work? NO!

What if I told you that the government now accepts tokens as a form of payment? Will you stay now? YES!

Same goes with tokens- even though our cute little stickers with smiley faces or laminated Thomas the Engine train tokens are beautiful- they must have VALUE to the child. The tokens need to represent some type of accumulation to earn a reinforcer at the end of the collection. 

3. Will you be able to deliver the tokens consistently?  

The goal with token boards is to implement them consistently. You would not want your boss to say “Ooops, I forgot to pay you this week!” – same goes with tokens! Make sure you are readily available to deliver these tokens when you “catch” your child doing the behaviors you want them to do. 

4. Can you identify behaviors you would like to “reward” with a token? 

When you are given an employment contract, you want to make sure that you know what your duties consist of in order to do your job and get paid. Same with token boards! Your child needs to understand what behaviors they need to engage in to receive a token!

5. Will you be able to deliver the reinforcement of choice immediately if your child earns all the tokens? 

The goal is that once your child earns the last token and has “filled up the token board”- that the reward will come immediately after the last token is earned. When picking the reinforcers- make sure they are things your child likes, but also things you can deliver! If the reinforcement is a trip to Disneyland- make sure you have a plan for that (for example, if your child earns the last token on a Wednesday night at 8pm- how likely are you to get up and go to Disneyland?). 

These are questions that must be asked and developed before implementing the token board with the child. If these are not considered, the token board will not have any meaning to the child.

There are also several other ways to implement a token board based on other variables- for example, reinforcing the “absence” of a problem behavior.

Token boards can also be as complex or as simple as possible. Each token economy system created for each child needs to fit the child’s needs and level.

Before beginning any token economy system, I highly suggest speaking to a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or a special educator with background in ABA to know 1) if your child is ready for a token board and if one is needed and 2) If needed, how and where to begin

Here at Behavior Trend, we evaluate all these considerations as part of our programs and explain and teach the process. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact us during office hours. 

I don’t want my child to become a robot!

I often get asked by parents if receiving Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services will turn their child into a robot. The simple answer to this: No.


When ABA is programmed correctly and implemented consistently across ALL team players, then we see children generalizing their responses. Your child’s ABA programs should be individualized, functional, and appropriate for your child’s current needs. In addition, the programs should also take into considerations generalizations. When we talk about “generalization” we typically mean that we want a child to understand the “bigger picture”. Sometimes to get to the “bigger picture”, we may need to start with one target, one picture, or one response. Eventually, your ABA program supervisor should evaluate your child progress with the team (this includes you and the therapists!) and determine HOW and WHEN it is time to start generalizing!

Your child’s ABA program should be evaluated by all the team players at least every 2 weeks. This ensures that the programs are kept up to date and altered if needed to promote success.