For many people with developmental disabilities – particularly children with autism — psychological, counseling or behavior services can help impart the essential skills they need to interact with others and to function as normally as possible in the community.

Behavior services provided through RCOC follow the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), and may be needed:

  • When an individual’s ability to function and interact with others in his or her everyday settings is disrupted, or impacts his or her safety;
  • When an individual has challenges related to his or her disability that have become difficult for the parents and/or caregiver to handle; When an individual consistently does not exhibit appropriate behavior for his or her age;
  • When the individual’s behaviors interfere significantly with learning and acquiring skills at home and in the community; or
  • When the individual has failed to acquire developmentally-appropriate adaptive or functional skills that are essential to the attainment of social inclusion and increased independence.

Here are several resources for families exploring behavioral services:

Applied Behavior Analysis

Behavioral services provided through RCOC follow the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).  ABA is not just one specific treatment method, but rather an umbrella term for the application of behavioral science to socially significant behaviors.  ABA encompasses a variety of scientifically proven treatment methods to address all types of behaviors. It includes both behavior intervention techniques and measurement of progress.

It is considered best practice to provide behavioral services in the person’s natural environment, such as the home and community, and to actively involve the person’s primary caregivers in the intervention.

Various agencies use ABA to support people with developmental disabilities in many ways, including:

  • Reducing socially inappropriate or aggressive behaviors. For example, systematic prompting and reinforcement procedures can help alleviate self-injury, property destruction, hand flapping and rocking.
  • Teaching news skills, such as toileting, dressing, feeding, communication and self-direction.
  • Encouraging the continuation of positive behaviors that have been learned. Positive reinforcement procedures can help increase completion of tasks or social interactions.
  • Maintaining functional and socially appropriate behaviors, teaching self-control or self-monitoring techniques in different settings.
  • Transferring behavior from one situation to another – from eating at home to eating in restaurants, for example.
  • Having behavior occur in appropriate places, such as voiding only in the toilet or eating only at the dining room table.

In-Home Behavioral Services

Best practice in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) involves completing a thorough assessment of the person’s behavior challenges and developing an intervention plan based on the results of that assessment.  As such, when in-home behavioral services are being considered, the first thing a family can expect is that a staff member from an RCOC-approved behavioral agency will come to the home to complete and assessment.

Based on the recommendations made after the assessment is completed, behavioral services will be individualized to meet the child’s and family’s needs.  If the assessment shows that in-home behavioral services are appropriate, staff from the behavioral agency will come to the home to work with the child and family on the recommended intervention.

The parent will likely be asked to record information about the child’s behavior between agency visits.  Also, at least one family member or other primary caregiver will be required to be an active participant during visits from the agency staff.  As caregivers learn how to implement the recommended interventions, they will be asked to practice them during and between agency visits in order to facilitate generalization in various settings.

It is important that parents, siblings, and other caregivers be involved during the implementation of behavioral services so they can follow up and provide consistency in response to the child’s behaviors when they occur at home or in the community, now and in the future.  As a result, all family members and caregivers become better equipped to help the child maintain the appropriate behaviors when formal services end.

For quality assurance purposes and to see how the child is responding to the recommended intervention, RCOC staff periodically conduct observations in the home and in the community during the time that services are being provided.

Behavior Management Workshops

RCOC encourages all families to attend these free workshops to learn new ways to address their child’s behavioral challenges.  In addition, behavioral services agencies report that parents who have attended the workshops are better prepared for in-home behavioral services because they have learned some basic information about ABA.

For more information about workshops, please visit our Events Calendar.


As with all services and supports paid for through RCOC, psychological, counseling and behavior services are subject to Purchase of Service (POS) Guidelines adopted by the Board of Directors to ensure that RCOC exercises good stewardship of the tax dollars it spends on behalf of people with disabilities. RCOC follows these Guidelines when authorizing service requests for consumers and families.