Parents: We Need You.

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.


  1. Hey Tameika, first I need to mention that I just stumbled upon this blog and I have to say I absolutely love it! I've already had so many questions and concerns answered simply by browsing through your posts!

    This particular post about parents was very intriguing to me because I am currently in a situation with my client's mother who is making my therapy sessions very difficult. On several instances she's snapped at me and has said she hates ABA, can't stand it, and that therapy ruins the rest of the day for the family. She criticizes many targets that I do with the child and overall has a very negative attitude.

    I have discussed these issues with my supervisor,but she tends to avoid confrontation with the parent and when she does follow up the parent doesn't say anything negative about the therapy.

    Providing the best services that I can for my client is becoming more elusive with the constant pressure and feeling defeated when the parent snaps when any thing goes wrong.

    At this point I don't know if I should continue trying to make this work or if I should request to refer this client to a different therapist.

    1. Hello!

      Thank you, I'm glad you found the blog :-)

      Parent involvement in therapy is a super important topic to me, because its so critical to my ability to perform my job. I have been in similar situations as the one you are describing, so I know how difficult that situation can be. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like your supervisor has been much help. Since the parent has been verbally abrasive with you, it doesn't sound like communicating directly with the parent would help this situation.

      Have you gone over the supervisors head to speak with the company owner about your concerns? You are correct, if this type of behavior continues being able to work effectively with the client will be almost impossible. I suggest first speaking with upper management, explaining how the supervisor has not been helpful (show documentation if you can), and if those efforts are not successful request to come off the case.


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