By: Paige Sands BS, ABA Graduate Student, and Maria Pantelides, MA, BCBA, LBA (CT, MA, MD, NY)
Caregivers have one of the hardest jobs in the world. Whether you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or other form of primary caregiver, you know how big of a responsibility it is to be in charge a little life twenty-four seven.
When your child has special needs, additional challenges can arise. It’s around this time that you may begin to look for outside support. This is an important first step! So, you find an agency and begin your ABA journey. Your family has been assigned a BCBA® and supporting technicians…now what?
Your team will work to get your child on the right path, but we cannot do it alone! ABA therapy requires a team effort. We are only one link in the chain. In order for what we bring to the table to stick, we need caregiver support. BCBA’s® and technicians need parents to be part of their child’s treatment during every step of the process so results can have maximum impact.
Why Be Involved?
Your provider will be working very hard on their programming to ensure your child is able to apply skills learned, which can be translated across multiple environments and people. As your child begins to approach mastery criteria with their technicians, your treatment team will start to move toward handing the new skill or behavior reduction techniques off to you as a caregiver.
This can really happen during almost any point in the process, but most of the time occurs once your child is used to the expectation. Caregiver training allows you to spend time learning how your technician has been approaching teaching your child to set you both up for long-term success. Bennett (2012) outlines that when caregivers are not involved, then a disconnect between treatment and everyday life can occur making it more difficult for skills to generalize.
How Can You Be Involved?
It is one thing for us to say we want you to be an involved caregiver, however you may be thinking; “How do I do that?”
The easiest and quickest answer is to be willing to participate in caregiver training, but there is a lot you can do. Communication with your treatment team is huge. If you notice changes in your child’s behavior when the treatment team is not around or if a previous learned skill is not being shown, tell your team. Your team will work with you to find what may be contributing to this. Additionally, if there is a specific skill you want worked on, let your BCBA® know and they will work with you to add it to your child’s goals.
Long Term Benefits
Look at ABA therapy as an investment. It’s an investment for your child and for yourself. The goal for your provider is to teach themselves out of your need for them, to give you control back. Grindle et al (2009) showed that 86% of female caregivers and 52% percent of male caregivers saw practical benefits for themselves after introducing ABA into their lives.
More importantly, both parties saw 100% improvement in their child. Other research shows that “parental involvement is the one invariable factor and an integral part of the success of early intervention programs for children with autism” (Ozonoff & Cathcart, 1998). Take the time, make the investment and be an active part of your child’s success in ABA!
- Bennett, A. (2012) “Parental Involvement in Early Intervention Programs for Children with
Autism” Master of Social Work Clinical Research Papers.
- Grindle, C., Kovshoff, H., Hastings, R., & Remington, B. (2009). Parents’ experiences of home-based applied behavior analysis programs for young children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39(1), 42-56. doi:10.1007/s10803-008-0597-z.
- Ozonoff, S., & Cathcart, K. (1998). Effectiveness of a home program Intervention for young children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, (1), 25-32.
For more information about Attentive Behavior Care and how we can help your child, please contact us today.