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Can an Applied Behavior Analyst Make Recommendations for a Patient’s IEP?

Of the many questions regarding IEPs that come up, one that regularly surfaces is that of the potential for an applied behavior analyst to make recommendations on an IEP. IEPs carry somewhat strict guidelines, but ABAs do represent a very legitimate source of medical opinion. For the answers, read along as we bring some clarity to this common question.

Related resource: Top 15 Best Applied Behavior Analysis Online Programs

The ABA’s General Role

First, knowing exactly what an applied behavior analyst does can really help. An ABA is essentially a mental health professional who uses the applied behavior analysis approach in order to further understand their patients and identify their mental health needs. This approach is an analysis method that takes into account a wide variety of attributes of the patient.

In many cases, but not all, this professional works to provide therapy to those with autism. For most intents and purposes, ABAs are professional counselors, or therapists. These professionals also frequently work closely or under the leadership of BCABAs, or board-certified applied behavioral analysts.

The IEP Process

“IEP” stands for individualized education plan. IEPs are customized plans that lay out exactly how some students will be taught and managed by their educators at school. These plans are strictly legally regulated and created by a “team” of IEP meeting participants. Once the IEP has been created and agreed to by both the student’s guardians and the school, it is then enacted as such going forward. If the IEP needs to be changed later, another meeting can be called, similar to the first, in order to redraft a more current, appropriate version.

IEP Participants

While it is true that the IEP and its handling are all tightly legally specified, there does tend to be some fair allowance room for who can actually participate in the IEP process. On the school’s side of the plan’s crafting, a number of experts can be utilized for that purpose. From behavior analysts to teachers, attorneys, and even outside occupational therapy services, there are plenty of professionals who are allowed into the meeting and allowed to give recommendation input for the plan.

On the parent/guardian’s side of the process, there is a similar, wide range of acceptable participants and input sources that can be used. For one, the parents and attending family members’ input is a primary source of consideration for what goes into the plan. Secondly though, any experts the family wishes to introduce for matters of expert opinion are also able to be heard from. This includes ABAs and all other experts who may have worked with the child in some capacity.

Additional IEP Resources

There is definitely a lot to know when it comes to IEPs today. Fortunately, there are a number of great online resources that really help to shed some light on the subject. is an excellent resource that provides IEP help as well as a whole network of information and partners to help parents of children with learning difficulties. The US Department of Education also provides authoritative info on the entire IEP method.

IEPs provide an important roadmap for educators and parents in educating special needs children. While there are many guidelines handling IEPs, there are still plenty of allowances for experts and others who can and do give input for the IEP. Applied behavior analysts are one of those professionals who is a common recommending force in many IEPs today.

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