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ABA Training for Parents: All You Need to Know

March 11, 2024

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has been shown to be effective in the treatment and care of children with autism and their disruptive behaviors. While it’s typically facilitated by therapists, parents often play an active role in the strategies presented. Fortunately, there are many programs and online courses that provide ABA training for parents. 

Certification allows parents to better support their child’s learning process while away from their therapist. This article takes an in-depth look at the many opportunities available for parents to become ABA certified. It will guide you through the process of locating a course that’s right for you, inform you of practical therapies that can be done at home, and offer guidance to help you and your child acclimate to the ABA therapy process.

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ABA Therapy for Autism

Where and how to get ABA training for parents

Several opportunities exist for parents who wish to become certified in ABA procedures. This training is most often provided online. The length of time needed to complete the curriculum can vary depending on the course you take, ranging from a few days to a year.

The cost can also differ between training methods. Some lessons are provided for free, but you’ll generally have to spend a bit more for a comprehensive education.

In general, ABA educational opportunities may include:

  • Online platforms: These platforms often provide video workshops covering foundational ABA principles and specific techniques. They may cater to parents, caregivers, or professionals working with children with autism or other developmental disorders.
  • Curriculum-based programs: Some programs offer structured curricula designed to guide parents or caregivers through tasks aimed at supporting individuals with autism. These curricula may include reading materials, activities, and discussions to enhance understanding and implementation of ABA strategies.
  • Specialized training: Certain programs focus on addressing specific challenges, such as maladaptive behaviors. They may offer in-depth insights into understanding the causes of such behaviors, identifying appropriate interventions, and developing comprehensive plans for behavior management.

Practical ABA therapy activities to do at home

Before becoming certified, there are several ABA-based activities that a parent can still do at home to support their child’s learning. The effectiveness of using these activities is backed by extensive research in behavioral science and they can be used to teach several necessary functional skills.

They include:

  • Sit In Chair: In which the parent sits opposite their child and asks them to sit facing toward them. This is to help them learn to sit calmly without fidgeting, at first in short bursts, then for longer periods.
  • Look At Me: In which the parent attempts to hold their child’s gaze for several seconds. This teaches their child the value of eye contact — an important social skill to master.
  • Identify the Emotion: In which the parent prints out several sheets of emojis or similar images that display a range of emotions. They are then placed face down, and their child has to guess what emotion each face represents. This helps children recognize emotions in others as they learn to better regulate their own.
A father and a daughter facing each other drinking tea
https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/aba-therapy-training-benefits/

While these activities can be utilized to help children develop their social aptitude, it’s important to remember that a cornerstone of Applied Behavior Analysis is positive reinforcement.

These exercises should be fun and stimulating for the child to perform because it’s that much harder for a skill to stick if they dislike the activity with which it’s associated. In addition, whenever they successfully perform the desired behavior, it should be reinforced with praise or treats. 

ABA tips from experts

Implementing ABA at home can be difficult for parents at first. Neither they nor their child are used to the process yet. But there are several expert-backed tips that can get you started on the right foot.

  • Practice: Continually familiarizing and reinforcing positive behaviors is key to children with autism learning valuable life skills. Don’t be frustrated if they don’t get it right away.
  • Cooperate: The parent knows their child best, but that closeness may make it difficult to recognize problematic behaviors. Collaborating with an ABA provider on their child’s care is the best way to ensure they grow up happy and well-adjusted.
  • Play: ABA is all about interacting with a child on their level to produce desired behaviors. The more fun they are having during activities meant to teach them, the more receptive they are to the lesson.
  • Adapt: If one method doesn’t work in teaching a child new skills, don’t throw in the towel. Tweak the learning program and adjust until something clicks.

You are your child’s biggest support

It is vital for parents to take an active and well-informed role in their child’s autism therapy to produce positive outcomes. A unified approach between the therapist and family helps the child learn and retain the valuable skills taught through ABA so they can lead fulfilling, healthy lives.


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FAQs

Q: Can parents learn ABA therapy?

A: Yes, parents can learn ABA therapy techniques through various educational resources and training programs specifically designed for them. These resources typically provide guidance on implementing ABA strategies to support their child’s development and behavior.

Q: At what age is ABA therapy most effective?

A: ABA therapy is most effective when started early, typically before the age of five, as it can help in shaping foundational skills and behaviors during critical developmental stages. However, it can still be beneficial for individuals of all ages, as the principles of ABA can be applied across the lifespan to address various challenges.

Q: How do you become an ABA therapist?

A: To become an ABA therapist, you typically need to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology, education, or a related field and then complete additional training in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). This often includes obtaining certification through organizations like the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) by meeting specific education and experience requirements and passing an exam.

Q: Do parents stay during ABA therapy?

A: In many cases, parents are encouraged to stay during ABA therapy sessions to observe techniques and learn how to reinforce skills at home. However, it ultimately depends on the preferences of the therapy provider and the individual needs of the child and family.

Q: Can ABA be done at home?

A: Yes, ABA can be implemented at home, often through parent training programs and guidance from qualified professionals. This allows for consistency and reinforcement of behavioral strategies in familiar environments.

References:

The Experience of Parents of Children with Autism Participating in ABA Treatment, Monica LaBrie, Walden University, 2019 https://scholarworks.waldenu.edu/dissertations/7105/ 

Treatment Efficacy of Parent-Led ABA for Children With Autism and Their Parents, Lindsey Renee Sneed, Walden University, 2021 https://scholarworks.waldenu.edu/dissertations/10685/ 

The Role of Professional Training Experiences and Manualized Programs in ABA Providers’ Use of Parent Training With Children With Autism, Brooke Ingersoll, Diondra Straiton, Nicole Rivera Caquias, 2020 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0005789419301145 

Yi, Z., Dixon, M.R. Developing and Enhancing Adherence to a Telehealth ABA Parent Training Curriculum for Caregivers of Children with Autism. Behav Analysis Practice 14, 58–74 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40617-020-00464-5

A randomized clinical trial of a virtual-training program for teaching applied-behavior-analysis skills to parents of children with autism spectrum disorder, Wayne W. Fisher, Kevin C. Luczynski, Andrew P. Blowers, Megan E. Vosters, Maegan D. Pisman, Andy R. Craig, Stephanie A. Hood, Mychal A. Machado, Aaron D. Lesser, Cathleen C. Piazza, 2020 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jaba.778 

Effectiveness of the internet based parent education program on applied behavior analysis for parents of children with autism spectrum disorder, Masahiko Inoue, Aika Tatsumi, Toshiki Fukuzaki, 2022, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0387760422001383 

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