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How to get the most out of ABA Therapy: A guide for parents.

Your child has been diagnosed with Autism. A medical provider made a recommendation for your child to get ABA therapy in the home and/or community. That’s great news because years of research and has proven that ABA therapy is the most effective therapy to help your child develop communication skills, social skills, adaptive skills, coping skills, and decrease any behavioral issues. It is a comprehensive therapy that requires a team effort from both, the provider and parent. You took the first step towards your child’s future by getting connected with an ABA company. Below is a list of ways you, as a parent can do to make ABA therapy more successful.

Assessment Process:

During the assessment process, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) will come to your home to interview you and assess your child. It is important that you provide the BCBA will all information including how your child communicates, socializes, sensory issues, displays problematic behaviors, your daily routine, how you react to your child’s behaviors, medical conditions, current therapies, and past evaluations. If your child already had ABA therapy and it was unsuccessful, let your BCBA know what happened and talk about ways you feel the therapy can be more successful. Be honest about your goals for your child and your concerns regarding therapy. It’s important to identify any treatment barriers with your BCBA so you can find a way to overcome them.

ABA Therapy Hours:

ABA is a dosage dependent therapy. If all the prescribed hours are not utilized, your child may not make optimum progress. The BCBA will evaluate your child and prescribe the amount of hours needed to make the most progress. If your child is a toddler, BCBA may prescribe a comprehensive treatment plan, which is 25 to 30 hours. If your child is school aged, and receives services in school, BCBA may prescribe a focused treatment plan, which is 25 hours or less. The program and treatment plan will reflect the prescribed hours. ABA hours are like antibiotics, if the whole dosage is not taken, it might not be as effective or make behaviors worse, especially if maladaptive behaviors are severe and a prescribed treatment plan needs to be followed. I know this seems overwhelming. The good news is once your child makes progress, the hours will be faded out. Also, your ABA therapist can go to community outings with you so your child can work on safety skills, communication, and socialization within the community. You are able to get chores completed around the house while your child is getting services.

Follow the Treatment Plan:
Your child’s BCBA will create a treatment plan. The treatment plan will have antecedent strategies that state how to prevent or minimize a maladaptive behavior, and reactive strategies, that state how to react to the maladaptive behaviors once they occur. Sometimes the maladaptive behaviors will get worse before they decrease. This is called an extinction burst. This means that a behavior that was previously rewarded is no longer rewarded, and the behavior temporarily increases. It is important the everyone that interacts with your child follows the behavior plan in order for the problematic behaviors to decrease and for more adaptive behaviors to increase. If everyone is not on the same page, you may not see progress.

Participate in Session and attend parent training:

Watch and participate in session and attend parent trainings with your BCBA. Run your child’s programs outside of session for your child to generalize skills across locations, times of day, and people. You are with your child most of the day and each moment is a learning opportunity. Your clinical team will train you how to follow the treatment plan and make the most out of each opportunity for your child to practice skills and learn new adaptive behaviors.


Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heyward, W. L. (1987). Applied behavior analysis. Columbus: Merrill Pub. Co. Chicago (Author-Date, 15th ed.).
Behavior Analyst Certification Board (2012). Guidelines Health Plan Coverage of Applied Behavior Analysis Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Retrieved on 2/22/2021 from