Surefire Ways to Waste Time in ABA Therapy

Let’s get this out of the way: ABA isn’t a cure for anything.  It is a discipline that is leveraged to rehabilitate the brain in a way that impacts behavior.  Think about someone that needs to rehabilitate a knee after they have had reconstructive surgery.  There is a tremendous amount of work, dedication, and consistency needed to regain full functionality, along with a great support community and a positive mindset.  

ABA is no different!  It is going to demand a great deal of effort and persistence from you if you want an optimal outcome for your child.  Unfortunately, we have seen less than optimal outcomes for some of our clients. Here are some things that can derail treatment.   

You think ABA is a cure. 

Currently, there isn’t a cure for autism or maladaptive behaviors.  If you are looking for a quick fix or a magic pill, you are going to be sorely disappointed.  ABA is a rehabilitation therapy for behavior. See the paragraph above. Suffice to say that 

You treat Your ABA clinic like a daycare center or a school.

Daycares and schools require minimal effort or involvement from you the parent in the growth and development of your child.  Conversely, in ABA there is the need for you to slowly develop your own behavior therapy skill set, which you will implement while with your child (don’t worry, we will equip along the way).  The “fix my kid” mentality doesn’t work in ABA. All caregivers must be aligned in how we respond or redirect your child. That includes you.     

You Believe that Enrolling your child in school is therapy by osmosis.  

This social normative pressure, to make your special needs child look typical, is a powerful force.  If your child’s behavioral data profile and assessment information show that they aren’t ready to succeed in a classroom, they probably won’t. 

Often it is tough when you are friends with other families and their similarly aged child with autism is ready to go to school and yours may not be.  Please fight the urge to look “typical,” instead stick to a plan of care that can actually help your child get closer to that point. We all want to get your child in school, but only when they are ready to succeed. 

You skip out on parent meetings.

Parent meetings aren’t optional.  This is the cornerstone used to set short-term strategies for helping your child.  This is where situations at home can be discussed and coaching can be provided to assist you in becoming a behavior ninja!  You are a key stakeholder in supporting the plan of care for your child. To change behavior there must be consistent responses whether reinforcing or redirecting from ALL caregivers.  This is the most challenging part of behavioral modification and the most important for therapy to have its optimal results. Remember, if you don’t change your behavior, how can you expect your child’s behavior to change.

You don’t give therapy time to work/you have inconsistency with appointments.

Rehabilitation takes time.  Remember the ACL surgery! Three months should be enough to see some changes.  You may even have some light bulb moments, where the power of ABA is visibly on display!  Growth usually comes in spurts; it isn’t linear or predictable.  

If you have anxiety, bring your concerns to your BCBA during your parent meetings.  Implement at home what’s recommended. Remember all the targets and goals you’re working on can be measured  Your reports will that show progress. It’s an easy metric on which to judge success. If you still don’t see the desired amount of progress over three months, it wouldn’t hurt to go get a second opinion.  Your child’s therapy window is finite. Use your energy, focus. 

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