A crucial component of any behavioral intervention is parent participation. Psychology tells us that parents are the most influential people in their child’s life. They are the first teachers and role models. Their love, support, and nurturing make the difference between a healthy childhood and a dysfunctional one. Consequently, parents participation throughout ABA therapy and consistent collaboration with their child’s treatment team can make the difference between a successful behavioral intervention and an unsuccessful one.
Some parents may be unaware of the important part they play in their child’s autism journey. While the child is with therapists and in school, parents have much to balance. This may involve work outside the home, caring for other children or family members, and seemingly endless tasks to complete around the home. While balancing the various demands of family and work life may make it difficult to find time to prioritize participation in ABA therapy, doing so will pay off as their child learns new skills and gains independence with daily tasks.
Parents and other caregivers have a lot to offer to their child’s treatment team throughout the therapy journey. As the parent, you are the expert in your child and should be asked to provide input into your child’s care, including likes and dislikes and short- and long-term therapy goals. Your child’s BCBA will use this information, as well as information they gather from your child’s records and direct observations and interactions with them, to guide the course of ABA therapy. Your child’s BCBA will also work with you to provide education and support throughout the education process so you also become an expert in all facets of your child’s treatment plan. Much of parents’ responsibility towards their child’s intervention involve carrying out treatment measures and protocols at home once their child’s BCBA indicates it is time to do so, and regularly reporting back to the BCBA.
Many parents may be afraid of carrying out certain recommendations the therapist has made for them and their child, especially during situations that previously may have upset their child or resulted in problematic, disruptive, or dangerous behavior such as tantrums, aggression, or self-injury. It is important to remember that before asking a parent to conduct interventions on their own, the intervention has been evaluated and found to be effective in ABA therapy sessions, across different therapists, in varying settings, and over time, and the parent should have been coached on using the intervention with their child with the support of their therapist.
To maximize effectiveness of ABA therapy, it is critical the parents and the therapy team communicate early and often. The best collaboration occurs when parents and BCBAs are open and honest about the treatment process, and work to establish understanding and trust. We encourage parents reading this to trust and confide in your child’s BCBAs with any challenges you believe may affect a successful collaboration between you and your child’s therapist. While you may have high work demands or apprehensions about the interventions methodology, reaching a mutual understanding with your child’s BCBA is critical if you are to maximize your child’s results. Remember, it takes all parties involved in a child’s life for effective outcomes. As you are your child’s first and primary teacher, your participation matters the most!