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ABA Basics for Parents: 6 Tips for Starting Therapy

When your child is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, you want to use modern resources to create the best support system for them and your family. Applied Behavioral Analysis is one of the most effective therapies for treating ASD, and learning ABA basics for parents is imperative to a solid foundation in the practices.

Read below so you can learn how to apply these principles without creating excess stress for you, your child, and their support network. 

Applied Behavioral Analysis Principles

ABA is designed to improve communication, learning, and social skills via mostly positive reinforcement. It has become increasingly popular as its success has been clinically proven, and it is considered the premier treatment for ASD today. Here are a few of the tenets of ABA therapy that you will be learning about and working with as a parent:

aba basics for parents

  • Discrete Trial Training: DTT  is a structured teaching format using arbitrary reinforcement.  It is usually done in a mass trial type format where the same target is presented multiple times in a row.  DTT is used for teaching discrete skills and done at a table with the child attending.
  • Natural Environment Teaching: NET teaches individuals how and when to use the skills being taught by contriving real life situations to use the target skills.  NET can be used in a variety of settings, including school, home, community, etc.
    Most importantly, NET allows anywhere that your child spends a great deal of time (home, relative’s houses, private practice, school) the ability to be used as a learning environment. One of the things you must be looking out for as a parent is to be highly motivated in your engagement and reinforcement during NET sessions, as they may be less formal of a process than in a clinical learning environment.
  • Pivotal Response Treatment: PRT is a play-based behavioral treatment that helps develop communication skills and teach children to avoid self-disruptive behaviors.

For example, in PRT a child might be taught to sharpen their daily motivation, self-management skills, or the initiation of conversations. In turn, this will allow them to have long-term success in a multitude of behaviors while reducing stress in unfamiliar situations.

There are many more important principles in ABA, but these three are some of the most common and influential. If you are familiar with these basics of ABA therapy, it will allow you to map out some sample ABA parent training goals early on in treatment for your child.

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6 Tips for Supporting your Child in ABA Therapy

Along with the ABA terms and techniques we have outlined, there are some daily actions that you can take to ensure that you and your child are learning and growing together in many environments:

  • Observation: Keeping a watchful eye on your child during educational or play-based therapy is important for multiple reasons. To begin with, you will want to be positively or negatively reinforcing the behaviors that are being focused on in each session, and missing them is detrimental. Similarly, if you are supervising your child, it will allow you to recognize how they learn best while conveying consistent teaching tendencies to them.
  • Alliance: Making sure you are well-connected with the service providers who interact with your child is also extremely important. By having an open dialogue with professionals, teachers, and caretakers, you can help transfer lessons across learning environments and behavioral techniques more effectively.
  • Data: The backbone of ABA, understanding the data points that are being examined and reinforced in the clinical setup of your child’s treatment will allow you to reach milestones earlier. The more you have an entire support system working in unison to teach the same principles, the less stressful it will be for your child.
  • Family: It takes a village to raise a child, and ABA is no different. However, it is very important to have proper communication with family members who are going to be in contact with your child during teaching moments; they need to be part of the plan and educated accordingly.
  • Training: ABA training is predicated on reinforcement. Making sure that you are consistent in your standards and explanation of ‘why’ will create a more agreeable learning environment for you and your child.
  • Establish and Celebrate Goals: You, your child, and their support system should be on the same page about what you are trying to achieve. Similarly, as your child meets behavioral milestones, one of the best ways to reinforce them is to celebrate this success. Overall, ABA therapy should be a mechanism that reduces stress and increases joy while creating functional change.

aba basics for parents

If you can implement each of these in your ABA parenting training, it will go a long way towards creating behavioral improvement for your child. Similarly, it will teach you and your child the best ways to grow in almost any environment, which will set up long-term growth skills.

ABA Services Through Ally Pediatric Therapy

At Ally Pediatric Therapy, our team of professionals has been helping families implement ABA therapy successfully for decades. We help parents learn basic ABA skills that will remain relevant for a lifetime of growth and support. 

We understand the impact this change can have on quality of life for you and your loved ones, and would love to help you get started. If you’re looking to take the next step in having an ally, schedule a meeting with our team today.