What is a Parent’s Role in Akron ABA Therapy?
ABA therapy, short for “applied behavior analysis” and sometimes referred to as “behavior therapy” is considered the gold standard when it comes to treatment of autism and some other conditions. Among the most common questions our Akron ABA therapy providers are asked by parents:
- “How do I teach my child?”
- “How can I reduce these behaviors?”
- “What am I supposed to be doing?”
These are important inquiries, and we’ll start by saying this: Our Akron ABA therapy is immeasurably more successful when parents take an active role. A fairly recent study published in the journal Behavior Analysis in Practice cited numerous examples of research to support the idea that when parents are more involved in their child’s therapy, outcomes are more positive for a wide range of students across social behaviors and academic skills.
Perhaps the most helpful answer is: Learning. You’re supposed to be learning.
We understand that parents of children with autism and other special needs are often overwhelmed. Most are not educators or experts on children or behavior analysts. The study of behavior is not something that is common knowledge. We understand that sometimes when we explain our methods or how they carryover, they may seem odd or even nonsensical. We also understand that parenting a child who has a disability is tough as it is. But when your child learns in ways that are unexpected, it’s incumbent on you as a parent to work with our Akron ABA therapy team of professionals to try to understand what you don’t know and learn as you go.
Understand that what likely will not help is presuming that simply dropping your child off with an ABA therapist for hours each day is going to “fix” the behaviors. It truly is a team effort.
How Can I Actively Participate in My Child’s Akron ABA Therapy?
This is not to say we expect parents to be present and engaged during every therapy session. In fact, that might hinder more than it helps. Your child needs to be able to develop a bond and a trust with his/her therapist, and that involves having time to work together one-on-one.
Here’s what we typically recommend:
- Ask questions. Our behavior analysts, speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, intervention specialists and teachers have spent many years acquiring all the knowledge and skill that we have. We may not have all the answers to every question, but we are experts in this field and have a great deal of knowledge from which you and your child can benefit. If you don’t understand something, if you want clarification or a better sense of your child’s goals, treatment, behaviors and academics, we’re here to help.
- Do some research. Statistics, journal articles and data aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. But it’s important to recognize that Akron ABA therapy is a science and at least have a basic handle on the treatment your child is getting. That means understanding the basics of what ABA is, familiarizing yourself with IDEA (if your child has an IEP) and learning how a multidisciplinary approach works to result in the best long-term outcomes for your child. And if you don’t understand something, again, ask questions.
- Read the records and documentation. The medical records, the behavior plan, the progress report, the program notes, the handouts. It can be tedious, but it will help you to formulate better questions and be more actively involved in your child’s treatment.
- Observe. Again, it’s not necessary for parents to be present for every moment of every session. However, sitting off to the side of a therapy session, silently observing, may give you a whole new level of understanding for how to effectively engage and interact with your child – which ultimately will help reduce unexpected behaviors.
- Communicate. Our treatment team is here to help your child and YOU. We understand that the child does not exist in their own separate bubble. If you are struggling with certain behaviors, certain routines, certain goals – talk to us. If you have a safety concern – share it. If something about your child’s treatment just isn’t working – we want to know!
Parents and caregivers are an integral part of this team, and we not only value your insight and feedback – we need it.
Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides ABA therapy to children in Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Akron and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, homeschooling, alternative schooling, virtual therapy and education, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.
Helping Parents Understand Applied Behavior Analysis: Creating a Parent Guide in 10 Steps, Dec. 2018, Behavior Analysis in Practice
More Blog Entries:
ABA Therapists Talk the Power of Positive Reinforcement, July 22, 2020, Akron ABA Therapy Blog