Ever heard of the job behavior technician? If you like working with kids and families—and making a difference in their lives, while earning a paycheck—this might be the job for you.
A job as a behavior tech is a fairly new entry-level position that involves working with children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a developmental disability that can cause language, social, and behavioral challenges. Behavior techs (BTs) receive training to use a science-based therapy called applied behavior analysis (ABA) to help people with autism build skills in communication, socialization, self-help, and play.
If you’re still uncertain or want to learn more, read on for answers to common questions about the job.
Where do behavior technicians work?
As a behavior tech, you would work one-on-one with a client in a variety of settings, such as a child’s home, community, or school, or learning center.
Who do behavior technicians work with?
While a large number of jobs involve working with children with autism, behavior techs can work with people of any age. Most people who receive services from behavior techs have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which affects one in 54 children worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a “spectrum disorder,” ASD causes individuals to experience the signs and symptoms in various ways and to varying degrees. Most often, though, ASD can affect a child’s ability to communicate, form friendships, interact with other people, and manage emotions and behaviors in tough situations.
What does a behavior technician do?
A large part of your job would be to follow the guidelines laid out in each client’s treatment plan, which provides specific treatment goals and information in a paper-based or digital format. Written by the behavior tech’s supervisor, who is often a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA), goals target important skills for that person to practice and develop. These can include communication skills, play and social skills, and self-help skills like tying a shoe or zipping up a jacket.
Along with each skill, the treatment plan provides specific instructions on how to teach each lesson, outlining what to do when a client responds correctly, and what to do if they need more help. Throughout the entire session, you would provide praise and encouragement, doing what you can to make the session fun and engaging. In addition, you would collect data to later use to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment and guide future treatment decisions.
What does a social skills group look like?
Some behavior techs work in small groups of children, practicing social skills or facilitating play-dates. In these situations, you would “assist” children in playing, which could involve going over skills before they play with their peers, observing them as they play, prompting when necessary, and praising any effective social skills you notice children using.
What is it like to work with adults?
Adult programs typically take place in homes or “day-habs,” which are facilities in the community that provide services to groups of individuals during weekday hours. Sessions often focus on independence in self-help skills and vocational activities. In these settings, you might help your client practice activities like grocery shopping or keeping the house clean, or improve vocational skills such as cooking or making copies. Sometimes behavior techs take on the role of job coach for adults in their workplace, supporting their success at a job or volunteer position. In this situation, the tactics are similar to working with children, but the treatment goals shift to the working adult’s unique needs.
How can I tell if my work is making a difference?
As behavior techs practice each lesson with their client, they take data on each response the client makes, making a quick note about whether the client gets it right or wrong, or needs extra help. The data, graphed regularly and over time, form a beautiful, visual graph of the client’s learning and growth, allowing you to see progress, or the lack thereof, at a glance.
If a career as a behavior tech sounds like the right fit for you, browse our openings, and apply for a job today.