The Importance of Parent Training
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You’ve received the official autism diagnosis, located a suitable treatment center, and met with your child’s ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapist. Now, you can step back and let the professionals do their work.
Now it’s your turn for some training.
If that statement caught you by surprise, you’re not alone. Many parents don’t understand that they, too, must play an active role in their autistic child’s therapy.
ABA parent training is as vital as your child’s therapy itself.
By learning ABA tools, you can ensure the continuity of your child’s care and certify they receive the same excellent treatment at home as during therapy.
Let the ABA parent training begin!
What is Parent Training in ABA?
While the work of an ABA therapist can better the life of a child on the spectrum, what is equally important is ensuring the progress made during therapy continues outside of the clinical setting.
That’s where parent training in behavior management at home becomes essential.
With ABA parent training, the child’s parents are shown how to employ the tools used in a clinical environment in other settings, including the home.
The tools used use the same structure utilized in the formal therapy setting. This allows the child to feel a sense of familiarity.
The greater the sense of familiarity, the more effectively parents can implement the principles of ABA therapy at home.
Even though ABA therapy training is designed for the parents of individuals diagnosed with autism, it isn’t exclusive to them. The ABA parent training curriculum can be applied to all caregivers of the autistic client. From grandparents to nannies to siblings, everyone who interacts consistently with the autistic is eligible.
Techniques Used for In-Home ABA Therapy
Since the services provided to your child vary based on their unique needs, so will the ABA training for you, the parent.
This means the RBT (registered behavior therapist) may ask to observe your interactions with your autistic child in your home. This approach will help them teach you techniques for situations unique to your environment.
Or they may request that you sit in on some of their sessions at the center and effectively shadow them, carefully observing how they interact with your child.
The following are a few of the tools in clinical ABA therapy that can be taught to parents.
Therapists use positive reinforcement to reward individuals in therapy when they demonstrate desirable behavior.
For example, suppose the RBT is trying to discourage aggressive behavior in their young client. In that case, they will teach the parent the A-B-C therapy tool for avoiding this behavior.
The ‘A’ stands for antecedent, the environment or actions that usually precede the aggressive behavior in their child.
The ‘B’ stands for aggressive behavior, whether hitting, biting, or screaming.
The ‘C’ represents the consequence of the behavior.
If the child chooses not to be aggressive in a situation that typically produces that behavior, the parent positively reinforces their decision. They can give the child their favorite toy or game time on their tablet.
Communicating Through Pictures
The PECS, or picture exchange communication system, is usually taught to autistic children who are either non-verbal or have a limited vocabulary.
The same images used in a child’s clinical sessions become part of the ABA parent training curriculum. The parent is taught to use these pictures at home to communicate with their son or daughter.
The autistic child may start with pictures of objects and eventually expand to incorporate more advanced words and concepts, including emotions.
Not only will PECS foster a bond between parents and autistic children, but it will also help the young client improve their social skills.
Discrete Trial Training
This ABA therapy tool employs short and clear instructions to elicit a particular behavior from the child. During the parental coaching, the therapist will show the child’s caregivers different ways to achieve the desired behavior. Whether physically guiding the child or using specific hand gestures to get them to do what is needed, these types of instructions will eventually disappear, and they’ll be able to complete the task without prompting.
What are the Goals of Parent Training?
The primary aim of ABA parent training is to ensure the desirable behavior learned in therapy sessions continues outside of this environment.
Apart from that, there are other objectives which are no less important. These ABA parent training goals include the following:
- Instruct parents on how to implement techniques and treatment strategies outside of conventional therapy sessions
- Ameliorate understanding between child and parent
- Promote awareness of practical parenting skills
- Encourage effective communication between the child, the caregiver, and the therapist
- Greater success in clinical ABA therapy when practiced at home
- The parent receives greater support at home during times of difficulty
- Desirable behaviors are increased in the home
Who Provides Parent Training?
Typically, ABA parent training is led by the BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst). In their supervisory role, these highly-trained specialists are responsible for developing and tailoring an ABA program to meet your autistic child’s agreed-upon goals.
The BCBA may speak regularly with the child’s caregivers, but usually, the RBT implements the ABA therapy training for parents.
The Benefits of Parent Training in ABA
The rewards of developing an ABA parent training curriculum are many.
Offering ABA services at home via the parents helps foster a solid parent-child relationship. This emotional bond between adults and young people is critical if progress is to be made in encouraging desirable behaviors.
By developing an ABA parent training curriculum, the therapist is ensuring the skills the child has learned, such as dealing with sensory overload, can be maintained with work at home.
Establishing and adhering to ABA parent training goals will ensure generalization. This means that a newly learned skill in therapy will eventually be used at home and with enough practice in school and elsewhere.
ABA training for parents will equip their children with the tools and confidence to foster their independence. Situations where they used to feel anxious and insecure, may now be approached with greater confidence and assuredness.
Why Parent Participation is Vital
Without the guidance and support of parents, ABA therapy may not be as successful.
Their lack of involvement means an autistic child won’t receive the same overall level of reinforcement and motivation.
An autistic child’s caregiver is essential in providing feedback to the RBT and BCBA regarding progress and goal attainment; without that, it would be difficult for them to customize the therapy program.
Rigorous participation in an autistic child’s ABA therapy is the foundation of success!