BHCOE Gives Autism Field a Needed Boost in Measuring Treatment Outcomes

Patients, parents, providers, payors and investors to benefit from a first-of-its-kind tool that promotes adoption of common measures to establish the value of ABA treatment

LOS ANGELES — Sept. 8, 2021 — In a data-driven health care world demanding value, it’s estimated that applied behavior analysis (ABA) will be a $2.2 billion category by next year1 despite having no commonly adopted outcome measures – until now. Today, BHCOE, the international accrediting body for ABA, announced a breakthrough for everyone seeking to understand ABA treatment value and secure access to equitable and quality care.

BHCOE announced that its researchers have developed an evidence-based tool that will drive the use of common outcome measures for ABA.

“This represents a major turning point for the ABA field,” says Sara Gershfeld Litvak, BHCOE’s chief executive officer. “ABA therapy is highly individualized, but if behavior analysts use the same framework for selecting measures and collecting common data, we can compare outcomes across patients and providers to gain the evidence needed to support equitable access, quality and training. Imagine that parents will have comparative data to evaluate their child’s treatment, that the ABA field will have a basis for measuring and improving quality and that others invested in the field will be able to assess its value.”

The tool, the BHCOE ABA Outcomes Framework™, indicates for the first time a structure for selecting measures that the ABA industry can agree upon for evaluating treatment outcomes. It suggests assessments for ABA therapy that will inform data collection and reporting. It provides a systematic approach for providers to select instruments to assess and plan treatment for individuals with autism.

The BHCOE ABA Outcomes Framework™ is publicly available in the following paper: “Selecting Appropriate Assessment Tools to Measure ABA Treatment Outcomes for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder”.

“It is our intention that providers and others rely on this research and that the BHCOE ABA Outcomes Framework™ leads to consensus on common measures to evaluate treatment and advance the ABA field,” says Ellie Kazemi, PhD, BCBA-D, BHCOE’s chief science officer. “Committing to a systematic approach for selecting assessment instruments promotes large-scale, cross-patient comparison of changes in patients’ skills and quality of life and allows for a global analysis of the impact of ABA treatment.”

The assessment tools BHCOE researchers designated in the BHCOE ABA Outcomes Framework™ meet criteria for reliability, validity, application to the broad age range of people with autism, cost and time efficiency to administer. The tools were determined by using the internationally recognized COSMIN method for selecting the most suitable outcome measurement instruments in research and clinical practice.

One in 54 children in the U.S. have autism2, and their demand for services has made ABA the first choice of treatment. ABA represents more than half of the services for autism received, eclipsing all other forms of behavior, communication and drug therapies. ABA has the support of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Behavioral Health Center of Excellence® (BHCOE®) is an organization within the autism field that is dedicated to leading evidence-based quality improvement of equitable Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) through its creation of performance-based standards for providers and learning and improvement resources for all stakeholders and as the only international accreditor for the field. To learn more about BHCOE, visit


Anshula Ahluwalia



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