When questions pop up over and over again, that tells me there is a lack of information or knowledge out there about what to expect when initiating the ABA therapy process. When working with my own clients, I usually give them a brief FAQ document that we review together, so I can clear up whatever misconceptions the parent has about therapy.…. because there are always at least a few misconceptions/myths that parents have about ABA.
I like to share information (Sharing is Caring), so please allow me to shed some light and remove some of the mystery.
When questions pop up over and over again, that tells me there is a lack of information or knowledge out there…
- The super intensive model of 40 hours a week is always the way to go – The intensity of treatment will vary depending on treatment goals. I have clients who receive anywhere from a few hours of therapy a month, to several hours of therapy each day. I like to explain this by saying, “the more intense the treatment goals, the more intense the intervention”. So don’t automatically assume that your child will need 24-7 ABA services in order to make progress.
- ABA therapy is just an “Autism thing” – I hear this one a lot. Parents of children with ADHD, OCD, Tourette’s, Down’s Syndrome, etc., will ask me in hushed tones “Can I get ABA services too?”. The science of ABA is much bigger than a diagnosis. ABA therapy is just about applying highly effective techniques, in a data driven way, to increase (see point #3) or decrease behaviors. So when you think about it like that, it seems almost silly to put ABA therapy into a box based on diagnosis.
- ABA therapy is just about getting rid of those darn problem behaviors! – I bet you thought ABA therapy was just about getting rid of tantrums, aggression, or disruptive behaviors. It’s okay, lots of people think that. ABA therapy IS really great at reducing or replacing problem behavior, BUT we also teach behaviors! Does your child need help with communication? Labeling? Attending to a book? Playing with age appropriate toys? Dressing themselves? Using utensils when they eat? Riding their bike? We can help teach all of these skills, and many more. If the issue of concern is a behavior, then we got you covered.
- The BCBA has never seen a child as bad off as your child – Please relax, take a deep breath, and realize that the BCBA is not in your home to silently judge you and disapprove of your parenting skills. When I first meet with a new family, OF COURSE the behaviors are out of control, the parents are stressed out, and the whole family is impacted. This is what I would expect pre-intervention. I don’t look at that situation and think to myself “Wow, this kid is the WORST!”. I look at that situation and think this is a family who really needs some help.
- “So this ABA stuff will fix everything, WHEW! What a relief” – This might just be the #1 misconception I encounter when a family is initiating therapy services. I like to call this the Magician Mindset. The ABA professionals who work with your child are not magicians, and I promise I do not own a magic wand. Progress is gained through hard work, careful review of data, and lots of parent/caregiver participation. What do I mean by participation? I mean that you as the parent are a member of the treatment team. You contribute to treatment planning, you collect data, and you implement behavior strategies. ABA therapy is not a spectator sport; it demands participation from all who are involved.
- If the issue of concern is a behavior, then we got you covered.
Until next time,
Ms. Meadows is the owner of the blog & resource website www.Iloveaba.com, and the author of three introductory level ABA books: “101 Ways to do ABA”, “From A to Z: Teaching Skills to Children with Autism”, & “A Manual: Creating an Autism Intervention Program”.