Parenting Special Needs Parenting

Getting the Most out of Therapy: What You Need to Know

During my years as a clinician, I’ve witnessed the many challenges parents face when starting therapy for their child. It can be difficult to navigate the variety of services for your child such as Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and ABA Therapy. Here are a few tips to ease the transition and getting the most out of therapy.

1.) Be an advocate for your child.

Work with your clinical team to provide information and to tailor goals that are specific to your child. The information you provide will be crucial to the development of your child’s treatment plan. Also, provide input on short term and long term goals for your child to the clinicians. These goals will drive therapy, parent/caregiver training, and consistency.

2.) Maximize parent training opportunities.

It is important that parents understand and are able to implement the strategies and techniques used. Parent training helps to ensure that their child is receiving consistent, high-quality instruction and that the parents are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to help their child reach their goals. Training also helps to build a positive relationship between the child, parents, and the clinical team, which further increases the likelihood of successful outcomes.

I worked with one clinician who provided training to a parent whose child was continuously
engaging in screaming every time the parent was on the phone. After observing the child and the parent in this situation, the clinician determined that the child was engaging in this behavior for attention from the parent. The parent was asked to pretend that she was on the phone talking.

When the child walked over to the parent, the clinician directed the parent to model to her child to lightly tap her on the arm. As soon as the child did that, the parent immediately provided attention and highly animated specific verbal reinforcement. After several days of trying this at home, the child now does scream when her mother is on the phone for attention, but instead lightly taps her on the arm.

It can be difficult to navigate the variety of services for your child such as Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and ABA Therapy. Here are a few tips to ease the transition and getting the most out of therapy.

3.) Aid in the generalization of skills obtained in therapy.

One of the key goals to therapy is generalization of the skills beyond the environment where the therapies took place in. Parents/Caregivers are vital for generalizing skills past the place of therapy. As noted in the example of parent training, this skill of appropriate attention seeking behavior.

While the child’s parent is on the phone has generalized to other situations. For example, the same child while at a grocery store with her parents wanted to show her parents an item that was on the top shelf. Instead of screaming, the child lightly tapped her father’s leg. When her father looked down, she pointed to the top shelf.

4.) Having consistent therapy.

Related, but separate to the above, is the need for consistent therapy. The generalization of
skills is not an accident. It is the natural result of consistent effort and diligence within the
context of therapy. Progress takes time and consistency is the key.

Be patient with your child’s learning process and remain committed to implementing the strategies consistently. It might seem like a day off here and there won’t disrupt their progress, which can be true, but the more time my clients are able to spend with consistent systems in place (i.e. reinforcement, rules, etc.), the more likely they are to grow in their skills.

Consistency across environments can help produce generalization and the more parents are following through with the training that the BCBA provides, the more likely their child is to make behavioral improvements.

Your child’s therapist is an ally and a friend working towards the same goals as you. Trusting
communication that allows for clarity on both sides is necessary for the success of a child’s

Siva Korukonda

Siva Korukonda is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral. He has been in the field of ABA since 2005. Prior to joining Ally Behavior Centers, he was the Executive Director for a company that provided ABA, Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Psychological services for families serving in the military in North Carolina.

You may also like...