You may have heard the expression “it is not about the destination…it is how you get there that matters.” ABA Therapy can be looked at through a similar lens, and to be honest it’s a journey that never really does reach a “final destination”. Every kiddo’s journey is going to be different, but with the journey of ABA therapy the ending point…or “destination”, can be looked at as a place where your child has reached the point where they can achieve their highest potential. Each child’s “highest potential” is going to look different as well, which is why ABA therapy at InBloom is individualized for every kiddo who receives it. So, to answer the question we started with: “Is there a finish line with ABA therapy?” well…yes, typically ABA therapy services will end at some point in time, but at the same time, no, you’ll most likely never reach a finish line, because like everyone on the full spectrum of neurodiversity, we’re all an individual and a continual work in progress.
While ABA therapy most likely will not be a part of your life forever, behavior analysis certainly will be! Behavior analysis is technically never done because the principles of behavior never go away. Therefore, even if services with your ABA team have ended because all of your kiddo’s targets have been met, it is crucial for families to continue to incorporate the principles of behavior analysis that have been implemented thus far. But how can you make sure you are still incorporating those principles once your Behavior Analyst is no longer around so you can keep getting closer to that “finish line”? Well, that’s what we’re here for!
While ABA therapy most likely will not be a part of your life forever, behavior analysis certainly will be! Behavior analysis is technically never done because the principles of behavior never go away.
One part of a Behavior Analyst’s job is to ensure their client’s caregivers are comfortable with the procedures and confident in their ability to implement ABA techniques independently. Although it may sound counterintuitive to a typical business model, our job as BCBAs is to work ourselves OUT of a job. We want our kiddo’s caregivers to feel confident, and until we can ensure that to the best of our abilities, ABA therapy will continue. Here are some ways that parents can help their kiddos continue to reach their highest potential:
1. Get Creative: It can be tricky to coordinate caregiver training talk with your BCBA about creative ways to ensure caregiver training is occurring on a regular basis. Technology is your friend! There are multiple platforms to ensure caregiver training can take place despite everyone’s busy schedules! Skype and Google Hangouts are two great options!
2. Ask Questions: While the basic principles of ABA may appear simple, as ABA therapy continues, more complex topics are going to come up. It’s a behavior analyst’s job to be able to explain principles of behavior analysis in both technical terms AND in layman’s terms so it can be understood by people who aren’t in the field. EXTINCTION BURSTS, TOKEN BOARDS, FUNCTIONS OF BEHAVIOR! If you are feeling overwhelmed with all of this new ABA terminology, just ask!
3. Recognize Your Own Reinforcers: You may sometimes see your therapist give your child a sticker once therapy is over. Find what you like so that when you have completed a task, whether that is getting dinner on the table, getting your kiddo to therapy on time–anything—you can give yourself a metaphorical sticker every once in a while!
4. Speak Up: Let your behavior analyst know when you are feeling burnt out! We are here to help. You are our clients too! Being a caregiver to a kiddo with special needs is no easy feat, and you are only human. Let us know when you are feeling burnt out and we can troubleshoot some ways to make sure caregiver training is at a pace that works for you.
5. Celebrate the Little Things: Once you are in your ABA journey, you may see your child’s therapist throw a party following something as simple as your child pointing to the color red. But you also know that it took Johnny weeks to sit at the table with the therapist in the beginning! By celebrating little things, you will create behavior momentum that is unstoppable.
6. Team Work Makes the Dream Work: You know your child better than anyone. When caretakers and the ABA team work together, your child will exceed expectations even faster! Communicate with your behavior analyst if you ever feel as though you are not a “team” so that you can get back on the same page.
7. Consistency is Key: In order for the techniques taught during ABA therapy to maintain over time, it is crucial to stay consistent with the goals your therapist is working on with your child, especially when they are not present.
8. Bird’s Eye View: As long as your schedule allows it, if therapy is in-home, watch how your child’s therapist responds to him or her. If you see what is expected during therapy, you will have an easier time carrying it out when therapy is over.
The reality is that every ABA journey is going to look a little different, and that’s how things are supposed to be. If you have more questions about caregiver training or how you can continue to help your kiddo reach the destination of their journey, definitely reach out to your Behavior Analyst or anyone on the Clinical Team at InBloom. We are here to help your child reach their highest potential, one little victory at a time…even after your journey with ABA therapy has technically reached the “finish line.”