As the parent of a child on the autism spectrum, you have many roles to take on. The advocate. The educator. The caretaker. Although you may find yourself overwhelmed at times, know that your role as a parent in ABA therapy is welcomed, encouraged, supported, and celebrated. For your child to be most successful with ABA therapy, he needs you by his side. And for therapists to be successful in their role, they need you too. Parents play a critical role that only you can fill. By working together with your child’s therapist, you’ll learn from each other while helping create and adjust the individualized therapy he needs. By working together, ABA is providing your child with a support team who has the same goals and objectives: helping your child succeed.
What is ABA Therapy?
ABA, or Applied Behavior Analysis, evaluates and applies how one’s behavior works in their real-life situations and environments. Backed by the science of behavior and learning, it looks at how learning is taking place, with the primary goal being to use rewards most meaningful to your child to increase particular behaviors. When a wanted action is demonstrated, the reward is given; increasing repetition on behaviors that are helpful and decreasing those that negatively affect your child’s learning.
Parent Involvement Matters
You are your child’s biggest advocate, and your role in any therapy is going to be crucial. No one knows your child the way you do. This is why you play a key role in your child’s ABA therapy. As the parent, you can provide insights into his environment, daily routines, abilities, and struggles. You have the unique insight to offer information that will help his therapists create a more individualized program. Studies have shown that your active and supportive role in the therapy process helps him make measurable improvements.
A Parent’s Role in ABA Therapy
As the parent, you can continue to apply what is learned during therapy in his natural environment. You’ll learn strategies and techniques while soaking up the effectiveness as you participate or observe during sessions. Learning to carry out this meaningful reward system, while working alongside your child’s therapist, arms you with the ability to continue it throughout his daily routines in his home and other environments. Being an active participant helps you gain the knowledge, confidence, and skills needed to guide his growth in the home setting. Strengthening skills, including dressing, toileting, and other self-care duties, will help your child tremendously.
Parents as Reporters
Providing your child’s therapist with detailed information of time away from his ABA therapy sessions is priceless. As the parent, you can see and record wins, struggles, and modifications needed. You can provide the wisdom of what you’ve seen work and not work for your child; making necessary modifications much easier to address.
Parents as Active Participants
Many parents ask if they will be a full-time participant with their child. You are not required to participate in every single session, or the entire length of sessions. ABA therapy does strongly encourage parent involvement to help incorporate strategies into your child’s daily routines. And there’s no need to feel you need to be an expert. Just as these newly learned skills and behaviors take time, so will your own knowledge, technique, and comfort level. Work with your child’s therapist and ask questions whenever you feel the need. Since therapy time is limited, your own participation becomes a powerful tool in your child’s ability to meet goals.
- Encouraging a Successful Learned Behavior
With the amount of time your child spends with you compared to the limited time spent in ABA therapy, it’s no wonder your role is such a valuable one. Your ability to reinforce behaviors learned during sessions is crucial to your child’s progress. While learning proper skills and strategies, you can help speed up the learning process of each new behavior. How you engage with your child outside of ABA therapy could be the difference between a new skill or behavior becoming a permanent one or not.
- Sticking to the Routine
Your child is less likely to be confused if his therapy sessions, regular routines, and environments match. Following through and implementing what’s learned in sessions helps reinforce your child’s developed skills and behaviors. Consistency will help him develop the goals you are all working towards. Structure and routine are already an effective practice for your child, so incorporating ABA into all areas of his daily routine will be beneficial and enhance these practices.
Parents as Cheerleader
Being a parent means always being your child’s biggest cheerleader. ABA recognizes and supports this role, as it has proven to be beneficial to a child’s success at achieving goals and forming new skills and behaviors. There’s also always opportunities for the parent to be a cheerleader for their significant others. Family members need to be cheered on, too! Creating a team of support benefits the child, everyone needs to feel the support from each other for the success of the child.
Parents as Researcher
Whether you’re just starting your deep dive into ABA therapy and various services, or have been at it a while, you know your role as a researcher is never-ending. You’ve likely already put in many sleepless nights learning everything you can to support your child’s needs and growth. While some topics are easily tackled, others may be more of a challenge; including finding financial assistance for costly therapies, as well as medical equipment. Be persistent. Help is out there. Parents can also write down notes about schedule changes, behavior shifts, new routines, sleep patterns, and help take data to assist the therapists. When searching for the ABA facility that is right for you and your child, ask questions, gather recommendations, and visit centers until you find one that is a good fit for your family’s needs.
Being a parent of a child with autism may require a bit more patience, understanding, and support, but you are not alone. At Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, we work closely with you and your family to conquer the same goals. It’s important to us that you feel comfortable and connected with our team so that we can work together for your child. Your role as a parent is valuable to your child and to our dedicated therapists. We are ready to share our knowledge with you and have you share your knowledge of your child with our team. Contact us today to schedule a visit.