Has your child been recently diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum?
If so, you may be overwhelmed with information – what autism is, what this means for your child and your family, what kind of support is available. If you’ve landed on our site either through a search or on the advice of someone happy with our services, you’re likely already somewhat familiar with ABA therapy – or at the very least, you know that it’s therapy that may be of great benefit to you and your child.
But you may still feel a little in the dark. Here are some questions you may want to ask regarding ABA therapy.
What is ABA therapy?
ABA therapy – or Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy -- is designed to meet your child’s specific needs. It is provided by highly educated and knowledgeable professionals who give your child one-on-one attention to help them learn new skills and reach specific goals. ABA is all about working with your child and your family while your son or daughter learns new skill sets and improves their behaviors, all through positive reinforcement.
This science-driven therapy gives you insight and understanding into how your child’s environment might possibly affect their behavior, examining their social skills and learning skills through a carefully designed reward system. ABA is used not only to improve social skills, but self-care, school and home environment skills too. After time spent in ABA therapy, your child will learn how to adapt to and cope with real-life situations.
How does ABA therapy work?
ABA uses positive reinforcement because it’s meaningful. The reward system is designed to replace any kind of undesirable behavior with appropriate behavior. The beautiful thing about ABA is that it’s not cookie cutter – your therapist will work closely with your child and your family by concentrating on your child’s specific needs and behaviors, and your child’s progress won’t be matched to anyone else’s, just theirs. If a specific reward doesn’t work, that’s ok – we’ll try something else.
Positive reinforcement is used instead of punishment to break “bad” behaviors because it allows new social skills and life skills instead of trying to force change with fear. Positive reinforcement has been found to create longer-lasting, successful results.
Do ABA therapists have to be certified?
BCBAs, or Board-Certified Behavioral Analysts, are specially trained and qualified to develop and implement ABA treatment for your child. They’re also trained to manage your child’s case fully, seeing the treatment plan through.
A reputable center will be open about what their staff’s credentials are, what their training policies are, and will be willing to answer any questions you might have, including what training direct-level staff members have before working with your child, how often the BCBA meets with the team members who are charged with working with your child, and so on. You can ask how often your child’s progress is being monitored and how much feedback you’ll share back and forth.
Can ABA therapy help prepare my child for school?
School readiness is so important, so you’re likely to want to have a conversation with your ABA support team to ask how they can prep your child for the school environment. Every child is different, of course, so you’ll want to discuss specifically what social skills your child will be working on, what life skills will be introduced, and how the curriculum at ABA therapy and at school might align or differ.
Do I have a role in ABA therapy as a parent?
It’s wonderful that you want to be involved, and ABA therapy certainly encourages and promotes parent and caregiver participation. Your child will be successful in forming and maintaining lasting changes if you work closely and carefully with them.
Ask about how much training you’ll get as a parent, and if you can participate in sessions. You may observe from outside the session, or you may be involved in it. Ask about what your child’s therapist’s expectations are of you.
It’s important that as a parent, you can give valuable information to your therapists as to what has previously worked for your child and what hasn’t, what their strengths are, what they enjoy, what they find unpleasant. You have a part to play in ABA therapy – ensure you select a center that celebrates your desire to be involved.