Parent training is a necessary part of an effective ABA therapy program. The role of the parent in ABA therapy varies, but ideally, parents are involved with the assessment, creation of the treatment plan, observe and participate in sessions, and receive parent training from the team leader. Since children spend most of their time with their parents, it is important that the parent is involved in the process in order to increase the child’s learning and skill development. This will build social skills, social understanding, and when consistently practicing these methods, it will teach the child more successful behaviors. Some studies that show children whose parents are actively engaged in the therapy process will make greater gains.
These are some general activities parents can do with their child at home:
- Parents should wait for their child to make eye contact when requesting for food, toys, etc. before following through with the request.
- Parents should read with their child and ask the child to point to pictures in the book, as well as point to specific pictures and label them.
- Parents should encourage their child to follow simple directions (ie. sit down, stand up, come here, etc.)
- Parents should play games (developmentally appropriate) with their child to expose them to a variety of toys.
- Sing songs that have motions with them. While singing, do the different motions and help your child to imitate your motions.
Steps on how to be your child’s advocate:
- It is important to advocate for your child in any setting.
- Parents must learn to understand their child’s needs in many learning domains.
- They must be able to articulate those needs to a variety of other people.
- They must understand the public and private systems of care and know where to find resources to meet their child’s needs.
- They have to understand their child’s legal rights and routes of recourse.
Parents have to make informed decisions about choosing from the many different types of services and care that are available in a community and in the nation (Rogers & Dawson, 2010).
It is critical that parents involved in ABA therapy find their voice, especially if their child is not yet speaking for him or herself. As your child becomes older and completes goals through ABA therapy, they will make progress and learn new skills! Yet, as your and your child’s environment changes, for example, to the school system or a new town, there may be more or fewer resources available. Getting accustomed to your role as an advocate early will make many of these transitions easier.