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Parent Training in ABA: Why Parent Involvement is Critical for Success

September 24, 2021
By: Heather Gilmore, MSW, BCBA
Parent Training ABA

Parent training is an essential component of quality ABA (applied behavior analysis) services. Parent training has countless benefits for parents, children, and families. This service can help parents learn about effective ways to improve their child’s skills, manage challenging behaviors, and support their child’s growth and development. Parent training services that are based upon the science of behavior and the field of ABA can be effective and beneficial for all parents including parents who have a child with ASD (autism spectrum disorder), ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and other behavioral or communication difficulties (Matson, Mahan, & Matson, 2009).

As a parent seeking ABA services, you should discuss parent training options with your child’s ABA provider. The ABA company’s parent training services should utilize best practices which include using and recommending research-based methods. Your parent training service provider will use and recommend concepts found within behaviorism to help you to help your child with any skills or behaviors that are important for them, specifically those things that will improve your child’s quality of life now and in the future. Your parent training service provider will also help you learn ways of helping your child generalize and maintain skills that they learn within their direct ABA services.

Why Participate in ABA Parent Training?

ABA parent training is an extremely valuable component of a child’s ABA services. ABA parent training can even be effective and helpful if your child does not receive one-on-one ABA services. Parent training offers you the opportunity to receive guidance and support from a trained behavior analyst who specializes in creating individualized recommendations and intervention plans that result in meaningful change for children.

While receiving parent training services, you will also have the opportunity to consult with someone who can address your questions and concerns about your child’s behaviors and development. You will have the opportunity to check in with the parent trainer on if your child is making progress on the goals that have been developed for them. If no or little progress is being made, your parent trainer will use their clinical expertise to provide you with recommendations on what else is likely to be helpful for your child.

There are many reasons why parents should be active participants in their child’s treatment services. If a child is receiving direct services, such as ABA or some other intervention, it’s important for the parent to be involved in the child's services by participating in the child's treatment.

When a parent is open to learning and implementing strategies that have been recommended by a behavior analyst and individualized for their child, they can support the child’s growth and development and quality of life. They can learn effective parenting strategies that will help their child become more independent, improve their social and communication skills, and even create a happier and healthier family life for all family members in the household. These are just a few of the reasons parent training is so beneficial.

Additionally, research shows that ABA parent training can lead to parents feeling less stress in their daily life and that overall family well-being can be improved, as well. So, not only do parent training services help the child who is receiving intervention but it also helps the parent themselves and the family as a whole (Koegel, Bimbela, & Schreibman, 1996).

Parent Training Supports Your Child’s Success

By participating in parent training services, you are supporting your child’s success - their ability to accomplish their treatment goals, their success at learning new skills that support their quality of life, and reducing challenging behaviors that interfere with their well-being.

Parent training can benefit children with or without a diagnosis as it involves giving parents tips that are developed based on their child’s unique current abilities, needs, and strategies that will help that child achieve realistic and meaningful steps in their development.

Supporting Treatment Outcomes

Research shows that one-on-one parent training for parents of children with ASD, developmental disabilities, and/or challenging behaviors can greatly improve the child’s progress on treatment goals.

Supporting Communication and Social Skills

By participating in ABA, especially through parent training services, parents can help their child improve communication skills and social skills as well as many other skills.

The core characteristics of autism spectrum disorder are related to difficulties with social skills and communication skills. ABA parent training professionals can assess your child’s social and communication skills and behavioral challenges and then develop effective recommendations that you can use with your child to help in those areas.

The Role of the Parent

Children with ASD require intensive and systematic intervention to help them achieve their potential. Parents are the core of this intensive training as they are with their child the most and have the most influence on their children. Parents can also learn to incorporate effective behavior-change strategies in the child’s everyday life, in their daily routines and daily activities.

Supporting School Success

Parents who participate in ABA parent training can also help improve their child’s success in school. They can support their child’s ability to learn and demonstrate appropriate behaviors in the school setting. They can help their child improve their academic performance by using effective behavioral strategies that help with things like getting their child to complete homework as well as getting them to learn the content being taught at school. Parents can also share ideas with their child’s school by advocating for the school system to use particular strategies that are likely to help the child do better in school.

Generalization of New Skills

Parents who participate in ABA parent training can also help their child generalize their skills to new settings. Generalization is a key component to learning new behaviors. Generalization has to do with the ability to use a skill or show a specific behavior in new ways and in new places.

For instance, a child who learns to add two plus two at school should also be able to do this equation at home or when counting money. When parents learn about strategies and methods that are effective for their child, they can then support their child’s behaviors in other settings, such as at home or in the community as well as with other people such as neighbors or relatives, as well.

Preventing Regression and Supporting Maintenance of Skills

No matter where a child learns new skills, whether it’s at home, in ABA, or at school, parents can support their child’s ability to maintain these skills. Maintenance of behaviors or skills means to be able to remember them in the future. Some children with autism may regress and lose skills or forget how to do certain things especially if they aren’t regularly given the opportunity to practice and use them.

An example of this is a child who recently learned to tie his shoes in ABA services. Parents play an essential role in helping this child to maintain his ability to tie his shoes. Without ongoing practice, the child may forget or become less skilled at tying his shoes. In this case, parents can receive guidance from a parent trainer on what methods were successfully used in the ABA sessions to teach the child to tie his shoes and what methods the parents can use to support shoe-tying at home such as how to use prompts, prompt fading, reinforcement, and giving sufficient learning opportunities.

Better Understanding of Your Child

Parents who participate in ABA parent training can also have a better understanding of their child's functioning. They can learn more about their child’s diagnosis (such as autism spectrum disorder) and how the diagnosis applies to their child. Parents can consult with the ABA parent training provider to discuss any assessments that have been completed with the child which give information and insight about the child’s current skills and behavior concerns. Parents can also better understand how their child processes the world, how their child responds to sensory input, as well as how to support their child’s unique self while also gently and compassionately challenging their child to continue to learn and grow.

Less Likely to Need Medication

Another benefit that may occur when parents participate in ABA parent training and receive guidance and support in using evidence-based practices and effective strategies based on behavioral principles is that they may reduce the need for their child to be on prescribed medications (Postorino, et. al., 2017). This is due to the parent learning ways of interacting with their child and modifying their child’s environment by using proactive strategies, reinforcement, and other techniques that can reduce things like challenging behaviors such as aggression, hyperactivity, and sensory overload.

Another example is how some children receive medication to help them sleep better. Parent training can help parents learn tips for helping their child sleep better which can reduce the need for their child to be on medication for sleep-related issues.

Improving the Parent-Child Relationship

Research also shows that the parent-child relationship can be improved for families who have a parent participating in ABA parent training services. This is especially true when the parent training includes guidance on how the parent can use behavioral principles in the natural environment and in the interactions the parent has with their child. You can learn ways to enhance your bond with your child. This is related to building rapport in ABA. You can also improve instructional control with your child. This will help your child be more willing to follow directions and also more likely to WANT to follow directions from you. Life will be better for you and your child when the parent-child relationship and instructional control are both improved.

ABA Parent Training is an Essential Component to a Child’s Treatment Outcomes

ABA parent training should almost always be included in any treatment plan for children and adolescents who are receiving therapeutic services. As primary caregivers, parents play a vital role in guiding their child’s development. They are present for countless moments that influence a child’s behaviors and the child’s learning and development. Parents are able to influence their child in many ways. With the guidance of a trained professional, parents can make a big difference in the life of their children. They can incorporate effective behavior-change strategies in their child’s everyday experiences which will have a lasting and positive impact on the child’s life for years to come.

Collaborating with Your Child’s BCBA

When your child receives ABA services, it is also important for you to participate in ABA parent training so that you can keep an open line of communication with your child’s behavior analyst or ABA service provider. You are the expert on your child. You can share important information with your child’s behavior analyst (BCBA). While the BCBA is experienced and knowledgeable in the field of applied behavior analysis and working with children with autism, you are experienced and knowledgeable about your child. Your child’s BCBA can develop recommendations and treatment plans for your child but it’s essential to have your input, as well, so that these recommendations and plans are truly a good fit for your child. You can also keep in touch with the BCBA to address any concerns you have and to report progress, however big or small, your child is making on treatment goals. This communication will enhance your child’s success in many ways.

Parents who participate in ABA parent training will be supporting their child’s success in:

  • Treatment services
  • Learning important skills such as self-care, toileting, and following daily routines
  • Generalizing and maintaining skills they have learned
  • Demonstrating appropriate, functional, and effective behaviors
  • Having healthy and enjoyable relationships
  • Achieving greater well-being
  • Navigating day-to-day life in an effective way
  • Setting a foundation for a better future

Parent Participation is Essential

Parent involvement and training are an essential part of ABA therapy. When parents are active participants in their child’s treatment, the child is more likely to be successful.

Parent training sessions are customized to meet the needs of your family and child – we work together to help you work with your child on things such as communication, self-help skills (like getting dressed and potty training), and social skills.

At Behavioral Innovations, parents are involved in every aspect of therapy. When it comes to your child, you are the expert! We can’t succeed – and neither can your child – without your support and involvement. We look forward to working with you in the future!

 

References:
Albone-Bushnell, R. (2014). A list of core skills and knowledge necessary for parents of children birth to five years old with autism, as prioritized by practitioners with a behavioral perspective (Order No. 3689092). Available from Education Collection. (1678945631). Retrieved from  https://search.proquest.com/docview/1678945631?accountid=166077

Crockett, J. L., & Fleming, R. K.(2007). Parent training: Acquisition and generalization. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 28, 23-36.

Gresham, F. M., Beebe-Frankenberger, M. E., & MacMillan, D. L. (1999). A selective review of treatments for children with autism: Description and methodological considerations. School Psychology review, 559-575.