During these uncertain times, having ABA providers come to your home might seem scary. No one wants to expose themselves or their children to COVID-19. However, if you know that your child will benefit from ABA therapy, there are ways to minimize risk of exposure to COVID-19 while working with a provider for your child to get the services they need.
Here are some steps agencies ABA agencies should take in order provide families with a safe environment:
An agency should have a mandated mask policy. That means all staff that come to your house must wear a mask. According to the The Center for Disease Control (CDC), a mask should completely cover nose and mouth and fit snuggle around the face. CDC does not recommend masks that are loose, has valves or vents, or is made of material with holes. The CDC also does not recommended substituting a shield for a mask. However, a shield can be worn in conjunction to wearing a mask. If a staff member does not follow the mask mandated protocol or is wearing an inappropriate mask, you have the right to cancel session and speak to his/her supervisor.
Staff should be provided with protective equipment such as sanitizer, gloves for personal care, and a cleaning solution to clean surfaces. Staff should wash hands and/or use sanitizer that has at least a 60% alcohol base according to the CDC. Staff should also be trained regarding universal precautions regarding safely handling bodily fluids.
Screening Tools Before Each Session
Each agency should have a screening tool that screens each employee and client for COVID-19 symptoms and possible exposure before the start of each session. The company should also have a policy of who to call if the employee or a client does not pass the screening such as calling a supervisor, canceling session, etc… If the family or staff member do not pass the screening tool, CDC guidelines should be followed such as screening for COVID-19, quarantining for 10 days, and following up with primary care physician.
You can also find out if telemedicine is an option. If your child is able to sit for zoom meetings for the school, s/he might be able to receive ABA therapy through telemedicine. Usually ABA therapy through telemedicine requires parent involvement. Some companies also offer telemedicine parent training and telemedicine supervision to the ABA therapist from the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). This will decrease the number of people in your house.
Questions to Ask When Calling an Agency
Each provider is different and has different policies surrounding COVID-19. These questions will help you determine what precautions are taken by each agency.
1. What are they doing to keep employees and families safe?
2. what about their policies are surrounding possible exposure?
3. Are their employees required to wear masks? What kind of masks? Are they trained on how to wear the masks correctly?
4. Are they provided with protective equipment such as gloves, sanitizer, and sanitize?
5. Are employees and clients screened for COVID before each session?
6. Do they offer telemedicine for supervision and parent training sessions?
Unfortunately, risk of contracting COVID-19 cannot be 100% eliminated but agencies must do everything in their power to minimize it so your child can receive the help s/he needs. Client and staff safety should always be the number one priority.