Importance of Parent Education in Helping a Child with Autism

I know you’ve heard this before – parents and caregivers play the most important role in their child’s progress.  As ABA providers, we are great at telling you that and expecting participation, but we don’t always equip you with the tools you need to play that role.  If you have an ABA provider, you likely have a supervisor or BCBA who oversees your child’s program/treatment plan.  You may see this person anywhere from every other week to once per month.

Often, the parent or caregiver education they provide will occur during your child’s regularly scheduled ABA sessions.  You may have experienced this when you’re trying to cook dinner, help another child with homework, or simply using that time to get other things done, because it is a small block in your day when you don’t have to be constantly monitoring your child with autism.

If you do manage to schedule some uninterrupted time to meet with your supervisor to practice skills, it probably goes in one of the following directions:

  • You are just meeting and talking about issues
  • He or she may give you some suggestions, but no guidance on practice
  • There may be great practice, but no explanation of why you are doing what you are doing
  • You may be reviewing a behavior plan that sounds good at the dining room table, but feels impractical when it’s time to implement it.
  • It is also common that he or she asks you to collect data on something when you are not there, but you may not feel clear on how to do that

If you’ve had a supervisor come in and expect your time on their schedule, I’m sure you’ve felt a variety of emotions.  Sometimes parents are intimidated. No one likes not being good at things and this takes a lot of practice.  It’s like learning a whole new language.

While you, of course, want to do whatever is best for your child, you may have had a variety of thoughts, ranging from:

  • Isn’t this your job, (supervisor)?
  • I should be able to do this on my own.
  • I know what’s best for my child. You barely know them.
  • There’s no way this is going to work.
  • This is way too complicated.
  • I need help.

We all want what’s best for your child.  Due to a variety of factors (funding restrictions, limited resources, client load), it is often difficult to provide the type of parent and caregiver education that is necessary to ensure the best outcomes for your children.  I, in no way, want to imply that your BCBA or service provider doesn’t care or isn’t trying hard enough.  It is simply a reality that we can’t always provide the kind of care we would like.  Even if your ABA provider is doing an incredible job, when they leave, there you are with your child.

We all have the same goal.  Unfortunately, it really is up to parents and caregivers to be proactive in their child’s treatment.  Many of the resources that exist outside of your regular ABA sessions, require physically attending a seminar at a specific time and place or those that discuss issues, but don’t actually provide strategies.  As an ABA provider, I’ve felt so frustrated by continuing education courses that fail to give me any actual solutions.

At Behavior In Balance, LLC, we’ve created online courses you can complete in your own time.  The modules are broken into short segments, so that you can still progress, even if you only have 10 minutes.  Our courses provide you with easily digestible explanations behind the theory, and actionable strategies, which we walk you through implementing.

Our first course focuses on the foundations of ABA.  At the end of this course, you will be able to better communicate with your supervisor, have a thorough understanding of how ABA works, and an action plan to better manage your child’s challenging behaviors and help make your home a more peaceful place.