There are a lot of things in life that are not guaranteed. I will make you these guarantees:
- If you fully participate in your child’s learning program, they will do better.
- If you change the way you react to your child’s behavior, they will change the way they act.
How can I make these guarantees? It’s easy, the clients that I have seen have the most success are those with parents that implemented these two principles. The parents didn’t make us “shelf-help.” You know, that book you buy that just sits on the shelf. ABA wasn’t a particular time; it was all the time. They were willing to push their child to succeed. They were willing to and did provide us with the materials, the reinforcers, and their own time to ensure this happened.
Much like your child’s teacher, love parents that want their child to be successful and are willing to make it happen. So, what can you do to help your child be successful?
- Take a more active role.
- Learn the treatment plan. If you don’t know what your child is working on, that’s a problem. You should be able to implement the plan when we are not present. You should also be able to tell if your child is working on a new task or a maintenance task by the level of reinforcement presented.
- Do the Family Consultation. This isn’t a time for us to go over how your child is doing in their learning programs. This is a time for learning on your part, but with goals set to benefit your child.
- Schedule Team Meetings. This is when all members of your child’s team come together to discuss progress. We talk about what is working best for your child and we make changes based on this information. You are the Chair of this meeting and your BCBA is your assistant.
- Learn about applied behavior analysis (ABA). I cannot say this enough… “ABA is a lifestyle change.” It impacts the way you see and do everything. Once you learn about the principles in the science of ABA and how to successfully implement them, you will see the world in a different way.
- Get those materials. It can be difficult at best, but mostly impossible to teach anything without materials. That’s why we list the materials needed in your treatment plan. Think of it like this… You want me to teach your child how to fold clothes, but don’t provide me with the clothing. How much progress towards that goal do you think your child is going to make?
- Provide reinforcers. People learn through reinforcement, not punishment. Reinforcers are something we are able to provide to improve the chances of a behavior (we want to see) happening again. If you are not sure about an item being a reinforcer, speak to your BCBA.
- Give your child your time. Many people feel that they don’t have enough hours in the day. Trust me, I get that. To your child, your time is the most important thing. You can do this in several ways. Start with seeing #1 above, then move on to things like spending time with your child by playing games or other things they enjoy.
I know parents who cried when their services were finished. Their children progressed to a point where direct ABA services were no longer need by a professional. This is the goal for all of our clients. How did they do it? By implementing the list above. You don’t need to implement all of these today. Start with one of these today and next month, add on something new.
Remember: Change doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a process. Your child’s growth towards independence is what you would like to see. So, help it happen.