For those of you who have just begun your Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) journey, you probably have heard about… Caregiver Training. Although it is required by most insurance companies, the importance of caregiver training in your ABA journey surpasses beyond a purpose of pleasing insurance companies. Caregiver training should be looked at as a stepping stone in your ABA journey.
The overall purpose of caregiver training is to give families and caregivers alike the tools and strategies they will need to carry out the principles of ABA across all the settings that a child encounters day to day.
Your BCBA will determine some caregiver training goals when ABA therapy begins. Your BCBA will teach you why your kiddo’s behaviors occur and how to respond. Within the initial treatment plan that contains the program goals for your kiddo, there will also be caregiver training goals. The caregiver training goals will be individualized to meet the kiddo’s and family’s needs.
An example of a caregiver training goal:
Johnny’s caregivers will implement mastered goals in the home and community settings to ensure maintenance and generalization, in at least 80% of opportunities, across at least 2 consecutive months.
BUT WHAT DOES THAT MEAN!? Basically, in this specific example, the ABA team will ensure that Johnny’s caregivers will be able to carry out the goals that he has met with his therapist and that his caregivers can do so across settings (like his own home and community).
Below are some important aspects of Caregiver Training:
· Collaboration: Collaborating is a crucial aspect of ABA in many regards. Your BCBA will collaborate with other therapies your kiddo may be receiving (e.g., speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy) as well as their school. Collaboration is important for generalization. Generalization refers to a child’s ability to consistently perform desired skills and behaviors across settings and people. Caregiver training is a form of collaboration, too!
· Social Significance: As mentioned, your BCBA will create some caregiver training goals. More than likely, there will be goals will include some sort of generalization. Moreover, the goals will be based on what is socially significant for the child and his/her caregivers. Similar to how your kiddo’s goals will be individualized to their needs, your caregiver training goals will be individualized to your family. For instance, if Johnny runs away from the shopping cart every time you go to Costco, your BCBA can work with you on that goal. In this scenario, your BCBA would work with the kiddo’s caregivers to identify why he/she is running away, as well as how to respond to it.
It is crucial that your child understands the expectations of his/her behavior are the same no matter who they are with, or where they are.
· Communication: If you ever feel your BCBA is moving too quickly, or too slow during caregiver training, let them know. Everyone is a team with the same end goal: to increase your kiddo’s level of independence as much as possible and to help him/her successfully function throughout day to day expectations in a meaningful way.
· Consistency: It is crucial that your child understands the expectations of his/her behavior are the same no matter who they are with, or where they are. Therefore, the techniques and strategies discussed in caregiver training should be utilized!
· Scheduling Creativity: Full-time jobs, therapies, being a supermom, keeping your sanity, etc…. You may be overwhelmed with the thought of caregiver training on top of your busy scheduling. Work with your BCBA to determine a schedule that works for you.
Your ABA team will empower you to feel confident using ABA strategies independently so your kiddo can thrive in their own environment! If you follow these caregiver training tips during your ABA journey, you will set your kiddo up for success and contribute to them reaching their highest potential.