Parent participation in ABA Therapy is vital to a child’s success.
If the parents are not involved in their child’s therapy the likelihood of success is much lower. When parents are involved in the development and implementation of interventions the intervention procedures are more likely to be generalized across contexts and people, and the child is likely to learn and use skills more quickly.
ABA professionals often possess knowledge that parents do not have. This could be knowledge of behavior theory, learning strategies, or motivation and attention. It is part of my job to educate parents about every aspect of their child's programming as well as how to address behaviors, and how to make ABA a way of life in their home. This is my favorite part of my job. I love parents who ask questions and provide me with new perspectives on problem solving.
Unfortunately, some professionals feel they don't have to provide parent education as part of their job. Maybe they are uncomfortable giving advice, or think parent education is only for the BCBA. However, everyone who works with the child has a responsibility to share information with the parents.The family and the ABA professionals are a team and the more we all work together the better it is for the child.
Sometimes as an ABA Therapist you will encounter families who are oppositional, resistant, or of the opinion that it is your job to "fix" their child. ABA Therapy cant happen in a vacuum if you want to see real results. ABA must have parent involvement and caregiver carryover to bring about lasting and significant change. As ABA professionals we cannot be on call 24 hours a day, and we cannot move into homes to deal with situations as they arise. When the ABA professionals are not in the home, the family needs to continue working on critical skills in order for treatment to be most effective.
To the direct therapists: use every opportunity you have to show the family how to run an ABA session. Parent education should be such an integral part of your job as an ABA Therapist, that if you called in sick the child's mother or father could run the session in your place. For the most part parents genuinely WANT to learn strategies and techniques, and if someone would take the time to explain it to them they would be very grateful.
For the parents: you should feel encouraged by the ABA Therapists to ask questions about your child's therapy. The therapist(s) should never make you feel embarrassed or stupid for asking questions, and should explain programs to such a degree that you could teach the program yourself if necessary. I encourage you to view yourself as an important member of your child's therapeutic team.
The speech therapist may have specialized knowledge about language and articulation, the occupational therapist may have specialized knowledge about coordination and movement, and the ABA therapist may have specialized knowledge about behavior. However, the parent is the expert when it comes to the child. As a professional I rely on the parents to give me feedback about progress, to alert me of any changes in behavior, and to provide me with valuable information about their child's learning style. The magnitude of what I can accomplish as a professional is limited if the parents are not on board.
Parents are the most natural advocates for their children because they know the child best and because increased parental participation is correlated with increased child success. Additionally, parents are most effective at advocating for their child because they are emotionally invested in their child’s welfare and they are the most constant people in the child’s life. When parents are involved and advocate for the rights and meaningful education of their child amazing things can happen.