Components of our ABA Program

At BLS,  we offer on-going full-time ABA Therapy for those with a diagnosis of autism. The ultimate goal of our program is to transition learners into typical classrooms.

One-One Therapy 

Throughout the day, learners work one-to-one with an ABA Therapist. During this time, the therapist targets all of the client's programs and takes data on the client’s performance using the Standard Celeration Chart. 

Programs range from joint attention skills (referencing others), manding (requesting), imitation (copying others), tacting (labeling), intraverbals (pre-conversation or conversation skills), building toy play skills, social skills, toilet training, feeding therapy, and much more.

Each learner has his own team of therapists who become experts on the client and the client’s programs and behavioral procedures.  Therapists must implement with fidelity clients’ behavior plans.  As a team, therapists implement instructional programs in precisely the same way.  



Many of our learners begin ABA therapy without having learned to independently void in the toilet. At BLS, after establishing some general compliance, we will fully "potty-train" all learners, no matter their age. 

We have a specific potty-training procedure, and we begin the procedure as soon as possible after enrollment.  When we begin potty-training, we require at least one caregiver to participate for a half-day to learn the potty-training protocol.  Most parents and caregivers are surprised by how smoothly the process goes and how quickly their children learn to void in the toilet.  

In addition to toilet training, we target all manner of other skills deficits and behavioral issues.  Among these are:  expanding a learner's willingness to eat a variety of foods; self-feeding using utensils; dressing skills; independent toy play; tolerating noise or other "triggers"; and much, much more.  We will teach ANY skill that is socially-significant and necessary for growth.

Play Group

Many of our learners participate in 45 minute sessions of play group 3 days per week. Play group involves structured games and activities. During play groups, learners are prompted (as needed) to join a variety of group games which allow them to practice following directions and rules, interact with their peers, and wait for their turn. 

Between structured games, therapists support and motivate learners to interact with their peers. They may also practice manding (i.e., asking) for access to a few minutes of other games or activities such as a memory game or a marble tower. 

Our main goals of Play Groups are to build an association between doing fun things and interacting with peers as well as expanding our clients’ lists of events and activities they enjoy. 

vocational skills

The main goal of many behavior intervention therapies is to decrease the amount of support a person with autism will ultimately need. We at BLS know (and research has shown) that many of our learners have the skills to perform unaided at vocations and livelihoods that match up to their interests and strengths, when the required skills are taught to mastery. 

Our Vocational Director works with our BCBA to create and design personalized teaching programs intended to connect our older learners with skills and tasks they find appealing and shape them into experts. We also encourage our learners to expand their interests, engage with the community, and learn to be an employee. 

Eventually, some of our learners may find employment either within our facility or elsewhere.


circle time & activity time

In the middle of the day, our learners break for lunch on a rotating schedule.  During the rotation, they are also guided by their therapist to participate in a brief circle time and activity time. These events are coordinated and planned by our circle time and activities coordinators. 

During the 25 minute activity time, our learners complete an age-appropriate or skill-level appropriate social game, independent play, or craft that coincides with the weekly theme. 

During the 25 minute circle time, our learners have the opportunity to practice responding to an instructor, to sing silly songs, and to play with stimuli that have been associated with specific days of the week (e.g. music instruments on Wednesday). 

group instruction

Devised by Zig Engelmann in the 1960’s, Direct Instruction is a method of teaching clients in a group setting and explicitly guiding them through scripted material. Research has shown that this systematic instruction is very effective in teaching children with disabilities, including low-functioning autism, as an alternative method to discovery-based learning or active learning. 

At BLS, our learners are first taught good learner skills such as responding in a group and on cue to a novel instructor before working through a series of structured book lessons. The learners are grouped and re-grouped as needed based on progress through the material. 

One-to-one therapists bring their scheduled learners to group instruction twice a day for 15 minutes each and take data throughout the session to record independent responses or prompted responses. This data is then used for making decisions, such as moving to the next lesson or re-grouping.

field trips, parties, & Special events

BLS partakes in quarterly field trips. In the past, we’ve taken clients to apple orchards, The Museum of Science of Industry, Children’s Museum at Navy Pier, and Fair Oaks Farms.  

We host parties for many holidays, including Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas. During parties, we generally eat lunch as a group and then play group games. 

In 2017, we began to host special event days on a monthly basis. We hope to invite in special guests or activities to offer a fun, hands-on lessons. On these occasions clients are still paired one -to-one with a therapist, but we are in a group setting and/or out in the community. 

We choose events, activities, and field trips that would be best for hands on learning and sensory stimulation.

Parent training

Parent involvement is crucial for a successful ABA program.  Our goal is to shape up clients' behaviors, and simultaneously teach parents to utilize principles of ABA in the home to ensure that skills and behaviors are generalized.  

As such, parents are required to receive training once every 3 months.  The training program track begins with a 2 hour group training session during which the parent trainer and BCBA discuss basic behavioral principles including reinforcement and functions of behaviors, to name a few. 

Trainings that follow continue to build on this knowledge, and take place both in the facility and in home. 

Parent trainings are required!