How parents can facilitate ABA therapy.

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D & Leanne Page, M.Ed, BCBA

bSci21Media, LLC

Parents- you know your kids best and you can be their best teachers! When parents and ABA professionals work together, the results for the children can exceed expectations. With any behavioral intervention, consistency is crucial. If parents follow through even when the ABA therapist isn’t around, the child will learn new skills quickly and so much more can be achieved!

In teaching any new skill, we focus on consistent and immediate reinforcement. If the child only receives that reinforcement when the ABA therapist is present, what are they learning? To perform skills for the ABA professionals and then the wheels fall off at family time. When parents and professionals work together and families carry over ABA techniques, the child learns faster and problem behaviors can decrease across settings, people, and environments.

Every quality ABA program should include parent training and specific goals for the parents. What do you see your ABA therapist doing with your child that you want to improve yourself? What areas/ times of day/ tasks are the most difficult for you right now? Talk to your BCBA and get some targeted intervention for YOU through structured and systematic parent training. Observe your child’s time with ABA providers and ask, “How do I do that? What more can I do?”

Consider parent training goals the same as goals for your child. We want to increase specific behaviors. For parents, this means learning how to teach and reinforce desired skills and how to follow an individualized behavior intervention plan when problem behavior does occur. There are specific behaviors/ tasks for parents to perform to maintain that consistency- so we teach them using the same evidence-based practices of behavior analysis we use to teach your children.

Learning basic principles of ABA allows anyone to handle new situations as they arise. Parents are always busy- we understand. But when you are busy, tired and stressed, it’s much easier to rely on tried and true research-based practices to get problem behaviors under control and restore some peace to your home.


Even when the ABA therapist is not around, you can arrange the environment to increase communication from your child. For example, require your child to mand (request) for items they need.  Give them a bowl of oatmeal (or whatever food they like), but no spoon. Prompt them to ask for the spoon. Celebrate the correct mand (request) with lots of praise.

By watching what types of responses are expected of your child during ABA sessions, you will know what to require all the time. If your child is manding for items with multiple word sentences for the therapist, but only using gestures and grunts for you- what can you do about it? Don’t give the desired item until your child mands (requests) appropriately. Model the correct response for them, prompt them, and be ready to lay that reinforcement on thick!

If you want your child to succeed with ABA therapy- and what parent doesn’t want this?!- focus on consistency. Watch what is going on in session, be a good learner for parent training, ask lots of questions and find ways to carry over the science of behavior. ABA therapy doesn’t end when the therapist walks out the door.

If you are a parent looking for more information on ABA feel free  to contact [email protected] for additional resources.

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which owns the top behavior analytic media outlet in the world,  bSci21Media aims to disseminate behavior analysis to the world and to support ABA companies around the globe through the Behavioral Science in the 21st Century blog and its subsidiaries, bSciEntrepreneurial, bSciWebDesign, bSciWriting, and the ABA Outside the Box CEU series.  Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar.  He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues.  Dr. Ward has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Dr. Ward is passionate about disseminating behavior analysis to the world and growing the field through entrepreneurship. Todd can be reached at [email protected]

Leanne Page, M.Ed, BCBA

Leanne Page, M.Ed, BCBA has worked with kids with disabilities and their parents in a variety of settings for over 10 years. She has taught special education classes from kindergarden-grade 12, from self-contained to inclusion. Leanne has also managed a center providing ABA services to children in 1:1 and small group settings. She has extensive experience in school and teacher training, therapist training, parent training, and providing direct services to children and families in a center-based or in-home therapy setting. Since becoming a mom, Leanne has a new mission to share behavior analytic practices with a population she knows needs it- all moms of littles! Leanne does through her site and through her book ‘Parenting with Science: Behavior Analysis Saves Mom’s Sanity”.  You can contact her at [email protected].

*Paid content by Verbal Beginnings.
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