Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, is a science that explores how to shape behavior. It is often used as a type of intervention therapy for neurodivergent children. The approach is an evidence-based practice that has been shown to help people with autism spectrum disorders and other neurodevelopmental challenges. It has been used successfully to encourage positive, stable changes in people with ADHD.
ABA works well when it is introduced early. Many schools and therapists use ABA concepts when working with children. ABA is most effective when all of a child’s caregivers and mentors are on the same page. Online ABA therapy training for parents can help you understand your child better and eliminate undesired behaviors.
How can i do this? I’m not a therapist!
Parents play an enormous role in shaping young children’s values, beliefs and behaviors. They are instrumental to the efficacy of ABA.
A therapist or teacher may see your child for a few hours each week. But parents are with their children during meals, bedtime, leisure activities, stressful events, tantrums and sweet snuggles. They see constructive and problematic behaviors crop up all the time.
Even if you don’t sign up for online ABA therapy training for parents, you need to know how to support your child as they go through ABA therapy. You’ll need to reinforce the concepts that an ABA professional is using with your child. If the therapy works well for your little one, you’ll want to use it consistently.
You don’t need to be a therapist to work with your child in a positive manner. When you can use ABA strategies at home, you reinforce the lessons that they learn from their therapist. In fact, parents who are unfamiliar with ABA principles can reduce its effectiveness by using counterproductive strategies at home.
The more that you know about ABA, the more supportive you can be. You’ll grow with your child as you help them develop skills to succeed in the world.
How will this help my child?
ABA therapy uses positive reinforcement to reward positive behaviors. The aim is to help children stop acting in ways that impair their ability to function optimally in this world. By rewarding desirable behavior, this type of therapy enhances people’s communication, interpersonal and learning skills.
Reduce problem behaviors
ABA therapy has been criticized because it used to be centered on a reward and punishment system. Today’s ABA methods typically rely on ignoring unwanted behavior. They focus on reinforcing positive behaviors in a rewarding way, eliminating triggers and promoting self-control.
When problematic behaviors are unrewarded and positive actions are supported, children stop acting out. As they learn to regulate themselves, they don’t need to use maladaptive coping skills.
Children and parents who use ABA therapy learn how to manage their triggers. This involves developing coping skills to manage their emotions and adjust their environment when possible.
ABA uses baby steps to help clients master skills. For some children, this may mean that they break down the process of making sounds to communicate with others. Other kids may have mastered that skill and are working on carrying on conversations.
Every child has different strengths. Some of the common skills that clients develop in ABA therapy include:
• Communication skills
• Social skills
• Activities of daily living
• Relaxation skills
• Sensory skills
• Skills for playing and enjoying leisure time
Regulate the central nervous system
Many people who are not neurotypical have sensitivities. They may be more responsive than most people to certain sensations. Everyday sounds or routine occurrences can trigger them. When these triggers happen, they activate the central nervous system, activating flight-or-fight mode.
This feels uncomfortable, and people use a variety of coping techniques and behaviors to self-regulate. Tapping your foot rapidly or rubbing your forehead when you’re stressed are examples of unconscious self-regulation strategies.
Kids do best when they are guided by clear boundaries and consistent discipline. Your child will know what to expect from therapy. Eliminating some uncertainty in your child’s life can reduce their anxiety.
When a child’s nervous system is regulated, they are less likely to engage in problematic behaviors or soothing techniques. The simple act of using consistent reward and punishment techniques can calm your child and stop negative patterns.
Everyone has different strengths and deficits. ABA is a customized solution that looks different for every client. It can be adapted to help individuals achieve their goals.
Some children’s goal might be sitting through a family meal without getting up from the table or throwing a tantrum. Others’ could be to get through recess without being aggressive. ABA moves people through their journey at their own pace.
What kinds of behaviors does ABA work for?
ABA works well for developing behaviors that help you function optimally in life. In doing so, it eliminates behaviors that interfere with personal hygiene, social interactions and maintaining a good quality of life.
Many caregivers seek out ABA to eliminate the following behaviors:
• Lack of engagement
• Unclear communication
• Concentration difficulties
Sounds great! What would i need to do?
Someone who wanted to work as an ABA professional must follow certain guidelines and get an ABA certificate. Prerequisites include a master’s degree, Ph.D. or psychology doctorate degree. You would also need to complete 270 hours of coursework at an accredited educational institution and complete a specified number of fieldwork hours.
If you’re a parent of a child who is undergoing ABA therapy, however, you don’t need to get a certification. But you do need to understand the ins and outs of the therapy.
ABA therapists are supposed to train the parents as they work with the child. Therefore, finding the right ABA therapist for your little one can set you up with a plan to learn along with your child.
Local medical clinics and community organizations may offer parent training sessions, like this one at Boston Medical Center. You can also find ABA parent training programs online.
How long does this take?
Every ABA therapy training for parents is different. If you’re not on the path to earn ABA certification, you can learn at your own pace. When you’re working with an ABA therapist for your child, you’ll pick up concepts and skills along with your little one.
Local and online courses may take several weeks or months to complete. Although the concepts are straightforward, you’ll need time to learn how to implement them with your child. Some online coaches work one-on-one with parents to offer training that’s geared toward their specific needs.
What are the differences between traditional ABA and online ABA?
Parents usually get ABA training in a traditional setting. As the therapist holds in-person sessions with their child, parents may be allowed to observe. ABA therapists may also provide information and worksheets that help parents work through concepts.
In an intimate setting like this, parents learn exactly what they need to help their children. They can watch and learn in real time.
But children don’t always act the same around their therapist as they do around their parents. Parents may not know how to handle problematic situations between therapy sessions.
You could find a telehealth ABA therapist for your child who will train you on the concepts as well. When parents work with a therapist online, they may have more access to the professional for questions that come up along the way.
However, other Online ABA therapy training for parents may not be so personal. Some courses are designed for a mass audience. Those often provide a wealth of general information. But you may still have questions about specific behaviors or issues.
But is it worth it?
If you have a neurodivergent child, learning about psychology and human behavior is fascinating. ABA therapy includes the parents to create a solid developmental foundation for the child. As a parent online ABA therapy and training can help you stay involved with your child’s treatment plan and improve its effectiveness.