If you have a child with ASD or autism spectrum disorder, you know that no two children with autism are alike. Depending on your child’s needs, there are many options available for the treatment of autism. This might include applied behavior analysis (or ABA), speech therapy, occupational therapy, or a combination of these. Regardless of the services, parent involvement is critical to ensure optimal progress. ABA therapy has been widely regarded as the leading treatment option for ASD. In this article we will outline the benefits and methods of caregiver and parent participation in ABA therapy.
Benefits of Being Involved in Your Child’s ABA Treatment
Whether your child is just starting ABA services, or your child has been receiving ABA services for a year or even longer, being involved in your child’s ABA treatment will have a lasting impact on your child. You can even improve your family life by participating in your child’s ABA services as you learn techniques and strategies that you can implement with not only your child with autism but that can help your other children, as well. You will also learn practical ways of improving your parent-child relationship, strategies for creating daily routines, and so much more.
Ways to Be More Involved in Your Child’s ABA Therapy
Although there is not one specific method of being involved in your child’s ABA therapy, there are some general guidelines that are highly recommended for parents and caregivers of children with autism.
Help Develop Your Child’s Treatment Plan & Understand Intervention Strategies
In ABA services, your child will have a treatment plan. This plan includes specific goals that you and the BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) develop together. The goals might be based on things you want your child to learn as well as things that your child’s BCBA has identified as being important for your child to work on in order to support your child’s independence and development in certain areas of life.
To be more involved in your child’s ABA treatment, be sure you participate in the development of your child’s intervention (or treatment) plan. To do this, meet with the BCBA and share specific skills you’d like your child to work on or behaviors you’d like to see your child improve.
Ask questions to better understand the interventions being recommended.
Attend ABA Parent Training Sessions
If your child receives ABA, you will most likely be offered what is known as parent or caregiver training; sometimes, it is referred to as parent support or family guidance. The goal of parent or caregiver training to your child’s ABA service is to provide education and guidance to parents and caregivers of children with autism so they can learn to use effective strategies at home and outside of treatment services to help the child work toward specific goals.
ABA parent training sessions might occur weekly or biweekly, or they might be monthly, depending on your child’s needs and how often they attend ABA services. If your child has severe challenging behaviors and has high support needs, you’ll likely want to have more frequent parent training sessions.
Communicate Openly and Regularly with Your Child’s BCBA
Parent meetings give you an opportunity to share information with your child’s BCBA. It is helpful to give your child’s BCBA updates on how interventions are going at home, if your child is making progress on treatment goals from your perspective as a parent, to review data you’ve collected, and to communicate about other issues that might come up such as your child getting ill or not sleeping well or issues that arise with your child at school.
By attending parent training sessions, you can be much more involved in your child’s treatment as compared to if you did not meet regularly and receive this supportive service from your child’s BCBA.
Practice Interventions with Your Child
When you have helped to develop your child’s treatment plan, you understand the strategies written out in the plan, and you regularly attend parent training sessions with your child’s BCBA, you’ll be in a great position to implement the interventions that will help your child work toward and achieve goals related to building skills and reducing challenging behaviors that will support your child’s current and future quality of life.
Being involved in your child’s ABA services also means practicing interventions at home. Parents (and caregivers) of children with autism are essential to a child’s progress. They spend ample time with their children. They have a bond that no one else has with the child. They know their child deeply and in a way that no one else does. This puts the parent (caregiver) in a place to help their child reach milestones and accomplish goals.