So, you finally got started with ABA services and now are wondering, “how can I, as a parent, get more involved with sessions?” Or maybe your child has been receiving services for quite a while and you haven’t been as involved as you would like to be because you are unsure of where to begin. Don’t worry, parents, you are not alone in this feeling! Here are some ideas to get you feeling comfortable and participating in sessions.
Obviously, each situation is different, but teaching your child to be able to ask for his or her wants and needs is a huge goal we want them to achieve.
Don’t be afraid to ask your BCBA questions, especially if you are brand new to ABA! Sure, the BCBA sent you that really long, technical treatment plan (which was probably a little overwhelming), but that doesn’t mean you understand everything in there or how all of that translates into the skills being targeted with your child during sessions.
Send your BCBA an email with your questions and they would be happy to answer them!
If your kiddo is receiving in-home services, this is the easiest way to be able to spend time observing portions of the session and noting how the RBT interacts with your child. By observing, you can learn what skills are being taught, as well as how the RBT is responding to certain challenging behaviors. It can be difficult to watch your child engaging in those problem behaviors, but the more consistent we are with implementing the same procedures (this means you, mom and dad!), the more likely we are to see a decrease in those behaviors. Also, in many cases, being consistent can help the BCBA determine if the intervention is working for all involved, allowing him/her to make necessary changes so that we see the challenging behavior decrease.
One thing many parents mention to me is, “I want my child to talk more.” And guess what?! We do too! Obviously, each situation is different, but teaching your child to be able to ask for his or her wants and needs is a huge goal we want them to achieve. This is another area in which it is beneficial for you to watch either the BCBA or RBT implementing the programming with your child. As a parent, you know your child inside out, backwards, and upside down, so it's easy to know what your child wants or needs just by simple looks, noises, or the time of day! It is important that you try to use the same communicative method at home that is being used in ABA, and also take a minute to slow down and allow your child the opportunity to use his communication skills he’s been working so hard on to ask you for that cookie he’s been wanting all evening!
If your kiddo has sessions in one of our centers, we have an open-door policy and would be able to schedule a time for you to come and sit in on part of a session. Scheduling this would be beneficial for you and your child, and if planned ahead of time, the BCBA could also be present to incorporate parent training into the session.
Schedule Regular Parent Trainings
Let’s be honest here… it can be difficult to plan and schedule these trainings with your BCBA. There’s work, soccer practice, OT, SLP, PTA meetings, etc. that can all cause parent trainings to be put on the back burner. Try your best to make it a priority to have at least one training per month, or even more if possible or appropriate. Parent Trainings give you the opportunity to have 1:1 time with the BCBA to go over your child’s progress, to ask questions or discuss concerns, and to provide you with the opportunity to receive feedback from your BCBA on how you are handling challenging behaviors at home or implementing that thing we call “mand training.”
Our goal is for your child to generalize skills across environments and people, and as the parent, you are one of the most important parts of that process!
Our goal is for your child to generalize skills across environments and people, and as the parent, you are one of the most important parts of that process! We BCBAs love your child, but the ultimate goal is that, one day, they will no longer need our services because they have achieved all of their goals and you have developed the skills to maintain them over time. For additional information on Parent Training (also known as Caregiver Training), you can read our article here.
Talk to your BCBA
So, let’s say you have asked questions, you have seen your RBT working with your child, and you have a parent training scheduled next week. First things first, that would be fantastic! And I hope it’s true for many of you or will be in the near future! However, if you have all of that but are still unsure of how you can participate in your child’s session, talk to your BCBA about options for scheduling you into the session. This could be built into the daily session schedule or weekly schedule, or whatever is best for you and is clinically appropriate for your kiddo.
Maybe if your child is in the center, you could come 15 minutes early to pick-up every Monday and see your RBT implementing some skill acquisition goals, and then switch places so you can practice running the goals. Or, if you are receiving in-home services, perhaps there would be time each day when you could work with the RBT on having your child appropriately request for your attention to play with them or providing them access to a favorite toy. The possibilities are endless!
All of these ideas are connected, and it really comes down to each individual child and their family, as well as your clinical support team, to be sure that you are receiving the support and training you need.Every case is different and fluid; what works for some, may not work for you, and that is okay! Being transparent and having open communication with your BCBA is important, because we all have the same goal – to provide your child with the best services to help them learn and grow to reach their full potential that we see in them each and every day.
If you'd like to connect with our Care Team to talk about how we might be able to help your kiddo with this type of skill and more, connect with us today!