Getting Started with ABA Therapy

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy is administered by professionals. As a parent, you play an important role in choosing the right person to help your child. But your work won’t stop when the professional begins.

Effective ABA therapy for people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) relies on active parent participation. You help your child to learn around the clock, even when the technician isn’t present.

You’ll have plenty of training to help you get started. You won’t be in this alone. But following a few basic do’s and don’ts can ensure your child gets the most out of therapy.

Finding the Right ABA Professional

Before you can play a role in your child’s ABA therapy, you’ll need someone to guide the process. That person is a therapist, and as a parent, you have the power to choose the right person.

Therapists certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board will have the letters BCBA after their names. Someone like this is qualified to create and oversee the treatment plan for your child.

Registered behavior technicians (RBTs) carry out the treatment plan that is created by a BCBA therapist. RBTs should be supervised by a BCBA through regular meetings, written reports, or both.

Parent Participation in ABA Therapy Is Critical

Researchers say that treatment works best when parents stay engaged. You know your child better than anyone else does, and you spend the most time with them. You’re in the perfect position to help tailor treatment and encourage skill-building.

You’re not expected to know everything about ABA therapy when treatment begins. Your child’s therapist is your guide. This is why it’s important to find a therapist you can trust. You will learn all about therapy goals and how you can help.

Ask your therapist for help with anything that seems unclear. They are there to guide you through the process.

ABA Therapy Best Practices

Follow best practices to ensure that your child has the best ABA therapy experience possible.

Throughout your child’s ABA therapy journey, you should:

  • Help yourself. Juggling work, childcare, education, and ABA therapy isn’t easy. Reach out to ASD support groups, experts suggest. In these groups, you can connect with others who are also dealing with these responsibilities. You may pick up tools and tricks that help you cope.
  • Practice everywhere. The more frequently your child can practice in novel situations, the better, experts say. Use shopping trips, car rides, doctors’ appointments, and church services as opportunities to solidify ABA therapy lessons.
  • Ask for progress reports. A child in ABA therapy should learn new skills and behaviors. You should see these in action as you move through each day with your child. You’ll see improvements in virtually every area of life, including academics, socialization, and day-to-day functioning. But your child’s therapist should also craft reports you can read and understand. Tracking data helps professionals to determine the next steps in the treatment plan.
  • Listen to your child. ABA therapy can be fun, enticing, and even a bit exciting. If your child seems nervous, scared, or angry, pay attention. You may need a different technician or a modification to the approach. It doesn’t necessarily mean that ABA therapy isn’t a good fit for your child. The approach might just need to be altered somewhat. Talk to your child’s technician about any issues that arise.
  • Ask for feedback. You’re part of the treatment team, and you are working hard. Ask your technician for advice about your role. Are you handling the work properly? Where can you improve?

Many parents enjoy ABA therapy. They look forward to the appointments, and they feel pride as their children learn and grow.

While parents are often involved in therapy sessions, they also have the opportunity to relax a bit as technicians take the wheel in these sessions. Parenting a child with autism is a full-time job. Getting hands-on guidance from a professional on a consistent basis can be invaluable.

You will have ups and downs in progress. That’s expected. But follow these steps, and you might like the therapy as much as your child does.

What to Avoid During ABA Therapy

Parents of children with ASD have plenty of tasks to tackle, and everyone makes mistakes now and again. You won’t be the perfect parent or caretaker. No one is. But avoiding some common mistakes as much as you can help your child.

As ABA therapy progresses, avoid:

  • Skipping appointments. Your calendar is packed tight, and it’s tempting to let one or two visits slide. Avoid that temptation. Your child needs many meetings with professionals to get better and make progress. When appointments are skipped, your child may lose the progress they have made thus far. This means a longer treatment timeline and slower results. Don’t let therapy take a backseat to other obligations.
  • Certain punishments. It’s easy to think that negative reinforcement is the best way to stop undesirable behavior, but it’s been shown to have the opposite effect. ABA therapy uses rewards for positive steps, and certain responses are used to discourage negative behavior. Behavioral technicians do not use physical punishment when kids don’t comply. This is a common misunderstanding among therapists and parents, experts say. If you’re not sure how to handle negative behavior, ask your therapist. Therapy should be fun, so kids will participate without coercion.
  • Backsliding. Consistency makes for effective ABA therapy. Kids should know what will happen and when. It’s tempting to let your child bend the rules now and then just to avoid a discussion. But doing so makes the lesson harder to grasp. Stick with the plan your therapist outlined.
  • Accelerating. ABA therapy is built on a series of very small steps that a child masters one by one. You can see the goal in sight, but your child might not see it yet. Don’t push your child to do anything they don’t understand quite yet. Be patient and let the therapy work. It takes time, but the gains are well worth it.
  • As with most things, there is a learning curve with ABA therapy. With more sessions, you’ll feel more confident in the approach, and you’ll be better able to reinforce the lessons learned in sessions.

Everyone makes mistakes. If you slip, don’t berate yourself. But look for ways to start fresh tomorrow, so you can help your child as much as possible.

ABA Therapy from IABA Consultants

If you have questions regarding autism treatment with ABA therapy, we are here for you! Our goal is to make sure no family is turned away due to financial constraints. Our therapy team would love to talk to you. Find the location closest to you and give us a call. We’re here for you.


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