Thursday, January 1, 2009

Parents as Therapists

Sometimes parents ask about learning to conduct their own ABA program at home and I hesitate to respond, but I feel it is an important topic to discuss. It is essential for parents to learn the basics of ABA and how it applies to their children's specific behaviors, but I feel it is best to leave daily sessions to other trained professionals. The parent-child relationship is a vital component to the well-being of the family and once the parent begins placing demands on the child in a controlled ABA setting for session, that relationship can become confused.
I try to look at it from the child's point of view: Up until now (sometimes three, five, or more years), Mom and Dad have played with and nurtured me. Now we are engaged in a systematic learning environment alien to anything we have done together before.
Beginning an ABA program on your own will result in an increase of undesired behaviors or the emergence of new behaviors altogether and will frustrate both participants. In addition, it is often difficult for a parent to objectively look at the function of their child's behavior, which in turn can result in the wrong approach to addressing such behaviors.
The best thing to do is to have your child start a program with an experienced teacher and then slowly involve yourself during Natural Environment Teaching as your child learns to generalize his skills. Parents can also apply play therapy and other natural teaching techniques throughout the day as long as the demands are integrated slowly so as not to disrupt the relationship already established with the child.