Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) uses a framework of data-based behavioral changes to improve the lives of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. If you are the parent of a child with ASD, it is important for you to understand the metrics, implementations, and milestones that this treatment provides. Put simply, your child will thrive when you are active in the role of teaching and supporting them.
In order to best accomplish this, we recommend that you create and track parent goals for ABA therapy. With the help of professional clinicians and a unique plan for your family, it is possible to have an extremely dynamic ABA strategy for parents in any situation. Read further to see how you can best attain this status to be an exemplary ally to your child.
Sharing ABA Goals with Clinicians and Support Groups
ABA strategies for parents start with the idea that you should ideally have a full-circuit support group for your child with ASD. This means that you will have gotten your ABA programming from a top clinician, and will also have multiple educated allies across safe environments so you are not shouldering the entire burden of ABA techniques.
However, when it comes down to it, you will still be the most influential person in your child’s life, and being able to implement the proper strategies in any space consistently is key. We recommend doing the following to ensure you have the proper ABA parent training framework:
- Attend ABA Classes for Parents: ABA parent training will help you share consistent communication with professionals and understand the quantitative analysis that goes into each unique treatment plan. If you are more confident about how to properly teach your child the lessons they learn in a clinic, they will be more comfortable receiving information in any environment.
- Be able to follow through with programming: When you and your child attend therapy, the interventions and implementations that therapists use in ABA are meant to extend to all environments. However, it is going to be more difficult for your child to maintain consistency if there is not similar reinforcement and messaging behind certain actions when they are at home, school, or in a non-clinical environment. Thus, make sure that you are using the same cues, verbiage, and action sets that your family’s therapists are.
- Practice reinforcement and prompting independently: Though you will want to maintain an emphasis on the framework that a therapist has provided for you and your child, you also need to be able to teach your child outside the clinic. This is especially true for new or unique experiences; your family is going to go through a life of surprises raising a child with ASD and it is unrealistic to think you will always have time to consult a therapist or go to an ABA session in order to work on behavior.
When it comes down to it, you are going to be your child’s strongest advocate for the longest amount of time. As such, honing your parent training and teaching skills is a no-brainer for all stages of helping your child grow throughout life.
Communicate and be on the same page as clinicians
We are preaching two modalities at the same time: you have to be an independent teacher, but while you are in family therapy for ABA, you need to be on the same page as your clinicians. After all, they are going to have the proper training and knowledge as a professional, and they will develop the framework of how to approach your child individually.
From there, it is a matter of taking steps to learn in a group setting with them as your child, but also talking to them individually about how you can have more effective ABA strategies as a parent. If this seems counterintuitive, don’t worry; the best ABA clinicians are used to and welcome the prospect of parents looking to get as much information as possible. If there is ever a therapist who takes the stance that you should not be involved in the teaching of ABA practices outside the clinic, we strongly recommend looking elsewhere for help.
Curriculum vs. Framework
Many clinics and therapists will recommend following an ABA ‘curriculum’ as a parent. However, we like to refer to clinical programming and teaching as a framework because a curriculum implies a narrower path of teaching for a set time. Depending on the nature of your program, there might be a wide range of flexibility for your family to help develop this framework; we certainly encourage it!
This is because we view ABA classes and parent training in ABA as setting you up for all sorts of learning and teaching in multiple environments. If you are solely reliant on your clinicians to foster behavioral change, then you will encounter rough sledding if there are location changes, clinic changes, or any unexpected interruptions to the ABA ‘curriculum’ your child is in. Thus, we recommend planning for the strongest long-term support group – and you’re the best resource your child has.