Can parents do ABA therapy?

Read time: 3 minutes

Traditionally, trained professionals deliver Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA). As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the skyrocketing costs of therapy, parents do ABA therapy more frequently.

On an ABA therapy team there are often 3 levels of clinicians. The Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA), the Senior Therapist (ST) and the Instructor Therapists (IT) /Registered Behaviour Technicians (RBT). The BCBA is responsible for overseeing the quality and directing the program. The ST oversees the IT/RBT. They also write the programs and do the assessment. On a traditional team, the IT/RBT deliver the therapy to the child. However, it is becoming more common for parents to receive Parent Coaching in order to implement the intervention themselves.

What is ABA Therapy anyway?

ABA is the science of learning and motivation. The goal of all ABA programs is to make meaningful changes to a person’s behaviour to help increase independence. Teaching skills and reducing challenging behaviours accomplishes this. Using a number of assessment tools, the BCBA will determine where the gaps are in the client’s learning and will design a program to fill those gaps. The BCBA will also determine the function of any challenging behaviour and will try to find replacements that meet the same need. In doing this, they’re looking to make the challenging behaviour unnecessary.

Some of the strategies used in ABA:

  • Frequent assessment and evaluation
  • Reinforcement
  • Shaping
  • Prompting and prompt fading
  • Task analysis and chaining

Can parents do ABA therapy?

The family and a BCBA will meet to discuss the child’s needs and what the family hopes to get out of therapy and coaching. The BCBA will help the family identify a goal or two. Subsequently, the BCBA will design a program that will either teach a new skill or replace a challenging behaviour with another more helpful behaviour. The BCBA will train the family in the program using Behavioural Skills Training (BST). There are 4 elements to BST: instruction, modelling, role play and feedback. That is to say, the family will be confident in their ability to implement the program. The family and the BCBA will meet weekly.

Parents are tasked with taking data, to monitor the child’s progress. Data is a foundation of ABA. In other words, all decisions should be based on and driven by data. If you’re having trouble with the amount of data that the BCBA is asking you to collect, please bring this to their attention. There are many ways to collect data and each has it’s own value and place in an ABA program.

The best ABA program will need changes and tweaks as it’s being implemented. Likewise, ABA programs must be individualized.

How do parents do ABA?

Father meeting with therapist to learn how parents do ABA.

Funding for Parent Coaching

If your child has OAP funding (Behaviour Plan Budget, Childhood Budget, Interim Funding) you can purchase parent coaching using your funding. According to the OAP website, in order for an ABA program to be funded it must be supervised by an approved Clinical Supervisor. In short, all of the BCBAs at Side by Side Therapy are eligible to supervise OAP funded programs.

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